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Last surviving 9/11 rescue dog visits Ground Zero 13 years later

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NEW YORK CITY (PIX11)
— The last known surviving Ground Zero search dog visited the site Thursday, 13 years after the September 11 attacks.

Bretagne, a golden retriever, went back to the downtown Manhattan area with her owner Denise Corliss.

Bretagne worked 12-hour days alongside 300 other dogs during her 9/11 mission. She was only 2 years old at the time.

When not searching for live victims, rescue dogs often served as therapy dogs for emergency responders, according to the New York Daily News. During an interview with the Today Show, Corliss recalled a time when Bretagne comforted a firefighter.

Denise Corliss and Bretagne were at the World Trade Center from September 17 to the 27th with TX-TF-1. (Photo: Getty Images)

Denise Corliss and Bretagne were at the World Trade Center from September 17 to the 27th with TX-TF-1. (Photo: Getty Images)

“It was like she was flipping me the paw,” Corliss told the Today Show. “She went right to that firefighter and laid down next to him and put her head on his lap.”

Search dogs that were present at Ground Zero not only worked long days, they also faced other roadblocks, including injury.

For Moxie — a chocolate Lab who was sent to Ground Zero from Beverly — it was discouragement by the amount of cadavers she came across, WBUR reported in 2011.

The chocolate Lab and her owner, Mark Alberti, searched for survivors at Ground Zero for eight days. At the time, Alberti was a Whinthrop firefighter.

Going through the wreckage of the World Trade Center buildings was Moxie's first assignment as a newly  certified Urban Search and Rescue dog. Alberti found that Moxie would often search the same areas multiple times to find cadavers, even though she was trained to ignore them.

To remedy this, Alberti started to mark spots that were already searched, so they could cover more ground. The pair was hopeful they'd find live victims through the rubble.

"And what happened is that eventually I think it became apparent to everybody that three or four days into it that we probably weren't going to find anymore live victims," Alberti told WBUR in 2011.

Finding survivors is important to search dogs, so Alberti ended up asking other firefighters to hide in the rubble for Moxie to find them, reported WBUR. Doing this helped Moxie stay focused and keep her spirits up.

"That'll bolster them, get them up and running again," Alberti told WBUR.