By Jon Herskovitz
AUSTIN, Texas (Reuters) – The last known surviving search and rescue dog deployed to New York after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on the city has died at the age of 16 in a Houston suburb, fire department officials said on Tuesday.
Bretagne, who was deployed the World Trade Center, was given a final tribute by about two dozen members of the Cy-Fair Volunteer Fire Department, who lined a sidewalk outside a veterinarian’s office and saluted her as the ailing dog walked in.
The golden retriever was suffering from numerous problems, including kidney failure. She died on Monday and was carried out in a flag-draped coffin.
“She is literally one of us,” said fire department Captain David Padovan.
Bretagne, a former member of the state’s Texas Task Force 1 emergency response team, was also deployed to help in disasters nationwide, include Hurricane Katrina and Rita. She was one of the 300 to 400 dogs searching for victims at the World Trade Center in lower Manhattan.
Bretagne retired at age 10 and became an ambassador for the fire department. She went to a local elementary school once a week, where first graders read to her in a program aimed at helping instill a love of books for young students, the department said.
Bretagne joined Texas Task Force 1 when she was a puppy. Her first major deployment was to search for survivors at the World Trade Center, her former handler and owner Denise Corliss said in an American Humane Association tribute to Bretagne.
“Rest in peace girl, We have it from here,” Texas Task Force 1 wrote on its Facebook page.
(Reporting by Jon Herskovitz; Editing by Dan Grebler)