In Memory of the September 11 Search & Rescue Dogs


It is with great sadness that we learned of the passing of Bretagne on June 6, 2016, just shy of her 17th birthday. Bretagne was the last known surviving search and rescue dog to have served following the terrorists attacks of September 11, 2001. 

CHF is honored to have funded the long-term medical surveillance study since 2001, led by Dr. Cindy Otto of the University of Pennsylvania and founder of the Penn Vet Working Dog Center. The study monitored the health and behavioral effects of the canine responders deployed at Ground Zero in New York City, the Staten Island landfill, and the Pentagon. In addition to the study providing vital information to handlers, trainers, and veterinary professionals on the health and wellbeing of dogs deployed on search-and-rescue missions, it also provides insights into health problems that may occur in human first responders. Ninety-five search and rescue dogs and 55 non-deployed control search and rescue dogs were enrolled in the study.

You can learn more about the heroic dogs who participated in the study on the Penn Vet 9/11 Memorial page. We are grateful for the service of these fine dogs and their devoted handlers.

To the many individual donors and clubs that have supported this study, we thank you as well. The data and information from the study will help a new generation of search and rescue dogs and their handlers.

Recently, CHF had the opportunity to sit down with Denise Corliss, Bretagne's handler. You can read more about their extraordinary story in "How to Maximize the Golden Years: One Heroic Working Dog's Story." We hope you enjoy the photos, below, from our time with Denise, her husband, Randy, and Bretagne. All photos courtesy Kevin McGowan.


Bretagne lived nearly 17 years, despite her exposure to the contaminants at the World Trade Center.

Bretagne bp

Bretagne gets her blood pressure checked by Heather Anderson, LVT, at Fairfield Animal Hospital in Cypress, Texas, which was part of an every- three-month exam.

Bretagne laser

Heather Anderson, LVT, during one of Bretagne's cold-laser therapy sessions used to improve circulation and stimulate the body’s natural healing powers. The goggles protected Bretagne's eyes from the laser.

Bretagne and vet

Bretagne with her longtime veterinarian, Dr. Mike Hicks of Fairfax Animal Hospital, who treated her since returning from Ground Zero.

Randy  Denise and Bretagne

In addition to her volunteer search-and-rescue work and full-time job, Denise is a volunteer fire fighter with Cy-Fair Volunteer Fire Department. She says that when Bretagne was young, she’d take her along on calls to acclimate her to the noise and activity levels associated with fire fighting. That experience helped Bretagne more easily handle the chaos she faced at Ground Zero and in later deployments.

Randy Corliss, Denise’s husband, is a full-time arson investigator, and he is also a volunteer fire fighter with Cy-Fair. “I remain amazed at how many lives this dog has touched,” he said at the photo shoot.

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