Honored Contributor
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Registered: ‎07-29-2014


Remembering the Hero Dogs of 9/11        September 11, 2020


When the World Trade Center collapsed on September 11, 2001, nearly 10,000 emergency rescue workers joined in the efforts to help.  More than 300 of those heroes were dogs.


Today we remember and honor the Hero Dogs of 9/11 along with the countless people who had their lives irrevocably changed by man’s best friend. From search and rescue dogs to comfort dogs to bomb detection dogs, these canines’ stories of courage, healing and long-lasting legacy must never be forgotten.


Always remember.






Bretagne (pronounced Brit-nee) was two years old at the time of the attacks. She and Denise Corliss, her owner and handler, worked at Ground Zero for 10 days as their mission went from rescue to recovery.


Corliss, a volunteer firefighter with the Cy-Fair Fire Department, began training Bretagne for search and rescue work at just eight weeks old. The duo soon became a FEMA-certified canine team that also worked in the rescue missions during Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, and Ivan.


Bretagne retired from formal search work at 9-years old, but continued to work as a goodwill ambassador for her local fire department, and as a reading assistance dog at a local elementary school.




Bretagne remained the only living 9/11 search and rescue dog until June 6, 2016, when she was laid to rest just shy of 17 years old.


As Bretagne entered the animal hospital in Cypress, Texas, firefighters and search and rescue workers from the fire department lined the sidewalk and saluted. She was carried out later, her body draped in an American flag.





New York, N.Y. (Sept. 15, 2001) — Golden Retriever SAR dog, Riley, is transported out of the debris of the World Trade Center. U.S. Navy Photo by Journalist 1st Class Preston Keres.

His search partner and human explained, “Riley knew the people he continued to find were dead. He was never a formally trained cadaver dog. His job was to findthe still living. I tried my best to tell Riley he was doing his job.


He had no way to know that when firefighters and police officers came over to hug him, and for a split second you can see them crack a smile – that Riley was succeeding at doing an all together different job. He provided comfort. Or maybe he did know.”






Coby and Guinness, both labrador retrievers, searched tirelessly through the rubble of the World Trade Center before returning home to Southern California to retire at their handler’s home.


Both of these dogs worked for an even larger and more crowded area than they were ever trained for, searching for 11 days in 12 hour shifts. Their reward was a nap or a chew toy.


Together, they found the remains of dozens of people in the rubble.






Appollo and his handler, Peter Davis, were called in to assist with rescue operations after the 9/11 terror attacks. They arrived at the World Trade Center site 15 minutes after the attack, making Appollo the first search and rescue dog to arrive after the collapse of the towers.


At one point, Appollo was almost killed by flames and falling debris. However, he survived, having been drenched after falling into a pool of water just before this incident. Appollo started working again as soon as Davis brushed the debris off him.






Thunder and handler, Kent Olson, traveled from Lakewood, Washington to search through the rubble for victims of the September 11 terrorist attacks.


Olson and Thunder often searched Washington for victims and survivors of avalanches and possible drownings. But this was the first time they had been sent so far away or had helped with a mission of this magnitude.






Sage became a FEMA search and rescue dog at only 18-months old. Her very first real mission was to search through the Pentagon after the 9/11 attacks.


Amid the rubble, Sage sniffed out the body of the terrorist who had flown American Flight 77 into the building.






Trakr, a German Shepherd seen here with Canadian Police officer James Symington, discovered the last survivor of the September 11 attacks at the World Trade Center. Genelle Guzman-McMillan was making her way down the stairs in the South Tower when the building collapsed around her. After being trapped for 27 hours beneath the concrete and rubble, Trakr alerted firefighters to her whereabouts.


Before Trakr died in April 2009, his DNA was entered into a cloning contest by Symington and was later chosen for use. In June of that year, five cloned Trakrs were born.






Jake was only 10-months old when he was found as a stray, living on the streets and suffering from several injuries including a dislocated hip and broken leg. He was adopted by Mary Flood, a member of the Utah Task Force 1, a search and rescue team trained to respond to disasters.


After nursing him back to health, Mary trained Jake for search and rescue. A natural, Jake quickly became a world-class rescue dog. While Jake assisted after many natural disasters, he was most noted for his work following the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center where he worked tirelessly for 17 days.


In his later years, Jake helped to train younger prospective rescue dogs, as well as their handlers. Jake helped other dogs to learn to track scents in difficult places and terrain, including under the snow and even up trees. Jake also worked as a therapy dog at Utah nursing homes and at a camp for burn victims.


Hundreds more loyal, devoted, and hardworking four-legged heroes risked life and limb on September 11 and the days and weeks that followed.  Whether searching for survivors, locating remains, or simply being a source of comfort and hope during the bleakest moment in modern history, we must always remember and honor them.


Honored Contributor
Posts: 13,375
Registered: ‎11-24-2013

Re: Important reminder

[ Edited ]

@feline groovy Loved the photos and the stories. I've had my good cry for the day.


All rescue and search dogs are heroes. These wonderful dogs went above and beyond.


I'm always moved when a K9 or rescue dog passes away and is honored by law enforcement/fire fighters.

Valued Contributor
Posts: 923
Registered: ‎01-27-2020

Thank you so much for this!


I remember when Bretagne was celebrating her 16th birthday.  She and her owner were flown to NYC and there were birthday parties for her.  It was beautiful.


They say the rescue dogs would get depressed when they couldn't find any survivors, so sometimes a living person would be brought in for the dog to "find."


All the dogs certainly deserve all the respect in the world!

Valued Contributor
Posts: 538
Registered: ‎12-30-2019
Thank you.That was beautiful.
Valued Contributor
Posts: 961
Registered: ‎07-26-2019

All worthy heroesHeart

Honored Contributor
Posts: 12,951
Registered: ‎03-09-2010

"Man's Best Friend"

Respected Contributor
Posts: 3,849
Registered: ‎08-20-2012

Remember too, K-9 officer Sirius who was locked in his kennel under the south Tower while his handler went to investighte the first strike and could not get back to him when the second plane hit.

Honored Contributor
Posts: 15,957
Registered: ‎03-10-2010

Oh how i love dogs, bless their hearts.

When you lose some one you L~O~V~E, that Memory of them, becomes a TREASURE.
Honored Contributor
Posts: 13,775
Registered: ‎07-09-2011

Re: Important reminder

[ Edited ]

@feline groovy 


Thank you for this beautiful tribute.


I will never forget the video of Riley being transported way up,  over the rubble.


Love and Blessings to Victims and Rescuers.

"Animals are not my whole world, but they have made my world whole" ~ Roger Caras
Valued Contributor
Posts: 748
Registered: ‎03-21-2010

Thank you - I LOVE dogs - no other animal has such a wonderful legacy.  It was thoughtful of you to share with us today!