K-9 Courage: 9/11 Memorial Exhibit Honoring The Dogs Of FEMA

Posted by Megan Swinney
k-9 Courage
Gene Shaw Getty Images

K-9 Courage pays tribute to the working dogs of 9/11.

For a limited time, visitors to the World Trade Center Memorial can see images of the heroic search and rescue dogs who helped with the recovery efforts at Ground Zero. The K-9 Courage exhibit gives visitors a side-by-side look at the pup's lives vs. their efforts at Ground Zero. The 9/11 Memorial & Museum, located in lower Manhattan, opened the exhibit in January of 2020 within the New York City 9/ 11 Memorial Museum. The photographs will be on display until the winter of 2022.

Photography of The Hero Dogs

RELATED: Remembering the Search and Rescue Dogs of 9/11

According to the 9/11 Memorial & Museum, photographer Charlotte Dumas wanted to know what happened to the dogs who helped first responders with search and rescue efforts. Around 300 dogs in total were brought in to assist with the efforts. Some worked at Ground Zero, while others worked with FEMA at the other crash sites.

Dumas was able to track down 15 of the dogs where they were living out their retirement. She took photographs of each of those dogs, photos that hang in the special exhibition in the Museum's South tower gallery.

The temporary exhibition, K-9 Courage, displays photos of the dogs working in their K-9 teams in the days after the terrorist attacks, as well as Dumas' portraits. One of the pups Dumas tracked down was Golden Retriever Bretagne, who was living in Cypress, Texas. Another one of the dogs was Merlyn living in Otis, Colorado.

German Shepherd, Trackr, was among the pup who helped search for survivors. Trackr was a retired police dog whose search turned into a retrieval.

Riley, a Golden Retriever, also helped comb through the rubble. Riley ended up retrieving the remains of firefighters who were caught in the collapse. Riley's handler Chris Selfridge told the New York Times, "We went there expecting to find hundreds of people trapped. But we didn't find anybody alive."

The last living dog was Bretagne, and she died in 2016. However, her handler Denise Corliss said to the New York Times that she ended up bringing a lot of emotional support to the police officers, firefighters, and other rescuers who were working at the site.

"A gentleman came up and started petting Bretagne and said, 'You know, I don't really like dogs,'" she said. "Which was a surprising statement considering he was kneeling down to pet her. I said, 'Oh?' And he goes, 'Yeah, my best friend loved dogs; he had a golden retriever himself. My best friend is somewhere out there,' and he pointed to the pile. It was a tie back to his missing friend."

Many other rescuers shared similar stories and sentiments with Corliss in the days that followed the attack.

Reservations to visit the museum and see the K-9 Courage exhibit can be made at 911memorial.org.

Additional Recognition

With the 20th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on NYC upon us, another exhibit is also opening. The American Kennel Club's Museum of the Dog opened an exhibit honoring the dogs and their herculean effort. The installation is called "9/11 Remembered: Search & Rescue Dogs."

The executive director Alan Fausel told the New York Times, "I hope this can be a little more uplifting. We also showcase some of the brighter sides and positive outcomes: Rex of White Way rescued a whole train of people stuck in the Sierra Nevadas in the '50s, and we'll talk about St. Bernards such as Barry, a very famous St. Bernard in the St. Bernard hospice in Switzerland who rescued avalanche victims."

Fausel hopes that the exhibition shows people a different side of these dogs. Many did not find people alive, but they brought a lot of comfort to those searching.

Do you plan on visiting either exhibit? Let us know on our Wide Open Pets Facebook page. 

READ MORE: This Budweiser Commercial Only Aired Once, Right After 9/11

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K-9 Courage: 9/11 Memorial Exhibit Honoring The Dogs Of FEMA