Cypress search & rescue dog honored

By Phillip Mena 2 Houston

CYPRESS, Texas — Heroes can come in all forms — even in the form of a golden retriever. When disaster strikes, heroes jump into action. Bretagne — French for Britney — is a retired search and rescue dog from Cypress, who helped search for survivors during some of America’s deadliest disasters. Her first deployment was in the days following 9/11.

“We searched approximately two weeks for survivors at Ground Zero,” her owner Denise Corliss said. “The (search dogs) have to have nerve strength to be able to go over collapsed buildings and not be afraid.”

Now 14 years old, Bretagne is one of the few surviving dogs who responded to the 9/11 terrorist attacks. She was deployed as part of FEMA’s Urban Search and Rescue group, Texas Task Force 1. [To see a video about Bretagne, please click here.]

But in 2001 Bretagne was far from done.

“She had a number of deployments ranging from the Olympic Winter Games to Hurricane Ivan and Hurricane Katrina,” Corliss said.

Bretagne finally retired from her work as a search dog in 2008 but her work helping others continues. She now works with the Cy Fair Volunteer Fire Department helping school kids learn to read – just by listening.

“Sometimes reading can be intimidating when children are just getting front of their classmates or teachers,” Corliss said. “So by reading to the dogs it can be less intimidating.”

For her efforts, Bretagne is up for The American Humane Association Hero Dog Award’s “Hero Dog of the Year.”

Just for being named a finalist Bretagne has already earned $1,500 for Penn Vet Working Dog Center, an organization that does research for detection dogs.

If she gets the most online votes, Bretagne will win $5,000 for the charity.

Even now, her owner says Bretagne still wants to help whenever duty calls.

“She still thinks you can go (on search and rescue missions),” Corliss said. “She doesn’t quite completely understand or at least accept the fact that she’s retired.”

To vote for Bretagne, click here.

The deadline to vote is September 15. and the winner will be announced September 27.

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