We’re remembering the 9/11 hero dogs that helped lead rescue efforts on that fateful, sad day 18 years ago.
Many remember the heroic efforts of rescue workers and emergency personnel who responded to the terror attacks as the World Trade Center collapsed on September 11, 2001, but the stories of hundreds of dogs who helped are not as well known.
When the World Trade Center collapsed, more than 300 dogs joined the rescue efforts that included nearly 10,000 emergency workers.
Countless lives were forever changed and impacted by man’s best friend that day. From comfort pups to bomb detection dogs to search and rescue canines, the dogs’ stories of bravery, courage and healing leave behind a long-lasting and beautiful legacy that must never be forgotten.
Hundreds of loyal and devoted dogs rescued their lives on September 11 and the days and weeks that followed. These are just a few of the many 9/11 hero dogs we want to remember.
REmembering the 9/11 HERO DOGs
Appollo and his handler, Peter Davis, were the first canine team called 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 towers collapsed.
Appollo, a German Shepherd born in 1992, graduated from the NYPD Canine Special Operations Division when he was two-years-old.
He was on of New York City’s top dogs throughout the 1990s and worked with the first NYPD K-9 Urban Search and Rescue team.
Appollo died in November 2006.
Bretagne (pronounced Brit-nee), a Golden Retriever rescue dog, was two-years-old at the time of the 9/11 attacks. She and her owner/handler, Denise Corliss, worked at Ground Zero for 10 days as their mission went from rescue to recovery.
It was the first assignment for the two of them – Corliss, a volunteer firefighter with the Cy-Fair Fire Department – began training Bretagne for search and rescue work at just eight weeks old.
The pair became a FEMA-certified canine team that also worked in rescue missions during Hurricane Katrina, Rita and Ivan.
Bretagne retired at 9-years old, but continued community service as a reading assistance dog at a local elementary school; she also worked as a goodwill ambassador for her local fire department.
Bretagne is believed to have been the last surviving dog from the 9/11 attacks when she was laid to rest on June 6, 2016; she was just shy of turning 17 years old.
Bretagne was honored – as any human would be – one final time before her death. A row of firefighters saluted her as she walked with her own, Corliss, into the Fairfield Animal Hospital in Cypress, Texas. She was carried out later, her body draped in an American flag.
Sage, a Border Collie, was 2-years-old when she and her handler, Diane Whetsel, worked at the Pentagon after the 9/11 attacks. Prior to September 11, Sage passed the FEMA Canine Readiness Evaluation at 18 months.
Her missions have included Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, searching for missing or captured U.S. soldiers in Iraq for the U.S. Army, and numerous missing-person searches. Sage was diagnosed with lung cancer, believed to be the result of searching several highly toxic sites.
Sage died in 2012 at the age of 13.
DID YOU KNOW?
- On September 11, 2001 about 300 dog and handler search teams responded to Ground Zero, but only about 100 were actually prepared for the size of the disaster.
- Most people in the U.S. had never heard of disaster search dogs before 9/11.
- 9/11 also ushered in a new era for therapy dogs as we know them today; many of the dogs went on to be deployed to other disaster zones following the September 11 tragedy.
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Do you have a story about a dog who helped you through 9/11 or a suggestion for a hero dog we can profile? I’d love to hear your ideas in the comment section below or on our Facebook page.