COLLEGE STATION, Texas (AP/FOX 26) - The last known living 9/11 search dog has died in a Houston suburb at age 16.
Bretagne (BRIHT'-nee), a golden retriever, was euthanized Monday at a veterinary clinic in the Houston suburb of Cypress, according to a statement from the Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service.
Bretagne was 2 years old when she and her handler, Denise Corliss, were part of the Texas Task Force 1 sent to the World Trade Center site in Lower Manhattan after the terrorist attack brought down the buildings on Sept. 11, 2001. They spent 10 days at the scene searching rubble for human remains.
About two-dozen first responders lined the sidewalk leading to the veterinarian's office and saluted Bretagne as she walked by for the final time Monday, The Houston Chronicle reported. An American flag was draped over her body as she was carried out of the facility.
Bretagne retired from active duty at age 9. At 15, she was taken by Corliss to the 9/11 memorial and participated in an interview with Tom Brokaw of NBC News. Corliss told NBC's "Today" that in recent weeks Bretagne began experiencing kidney failure and slowing down.
Bretagne was nominated for a Hero Dog Award from the American Humane Association in 2014. An online biography posted by the organization says that Bretagne served as an ambassador for search and rescue dogs in retirement, often visiting elementary schools.
Bretagne and Corliss met with former President George H.W. Bush at his presidential library late last year.
A post on the Texas Task Force 1 Facebook page remembers "the valiant effort and dedication to finding a victim trapped in a destroyed building that Bretagne showed us on a regular basis."
Throughout her heroic career she also responded to a number of notable disasters including Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.
She retired from active duty at the age of 10 but continued to serve her community as an ambassador for the department and assisted other search dogs in their training.
She also visited local schools and visited students with special needs. Her calm demeanor and warm heart helped the young and old through their own difficult moments.
In a release the department said: "Some may say that the most a dog could be is a pet, however, to the over 400 members of the Cy-Fair Volunteer Fire Department, Bretagne was a civil servant, a hero and is family. We will remember her fondly, and continue serving the community with her as inspiration."