Dog Features

Announcing the Winner of our Savannah's Best Pet Contest:
Captain Morgan a True K9 Hero

In the summer of 1999 in the countryside of South Carolina, a dark-faced, bouncy, female German Shepherd puppy was born. Little did the people in her life know then the impact that this pushy but loyal puppy would have on the world around her.

At the tender age of six months, Morgan, as the puppy was named, embarked on her extensive training as a search and rescue, cadaver and protection dog. True to her breed she proved extremely intelligent, eager to please, and excelled in the tasks she learned. Once her training was completed she joined forces with members of the K9 Task Force located in south Georgia. During her service with the K9 task force, Morgan rose to the occasion without fail succeeding where many humans had failed and bringing closure and peace to the families of those she located.

For example, in summer 2001, police along with divers and drag equipment, searched in vain for 4 days to locate a body in over 40 feet of water. Finally they called in the K9 task force and Captain Morgan located the body in less than 30 minutes.

Another time (August 2000) outside of Augusta, Georgia Morgan located the rest of the skeletal remains of a body that had been there for over a decade, allowing the family closure after suffering with not knowing for so long. She also served as a very important part of the local fire department's outreach to area schools on fire safety. Children remember vividly the "stop-drop-&-roll" and crawling on the floor advice after seeing Morgan demonstrate each several times at each lecture. Many children's lives were saved when confronted with a fire because of remembering the "doggie" that stopped, dropped, & rolled and who belly-crawled along the floor to avoid the "smoke".

And the list goes on and on -- from finding critical evidence to prosecute criminals such as kidnappers and murders to finding bodies from lost and accident situations to reuniting lost people with those that love them to helping protect and save children, Captain Morgan served her community without fail and with the only reward being the love and praise of those she worked with. Oh, and playtime with a tennis ball and laser pointer light were pretty good rewards as well.

And then came the day that will live on in the memory of the American public -- the day that the twin towers fell to the desperate fanaticism of terrorists.

The call came amid all the confusion, shock, and grief. Captain Morgan, her canine partner Molly, and their human handlers John and Doug raced the clock making it from Savannah, Georgia to New York City in less than 8 hours. They were the first cadaver teams on site.

We have all seen the images and remember the horrible conditions that these teams worked in for 18-20 hours at a time. Conditions bordered on intolerable and multiple times a day human and canine workers had to stop to receive intravenous fluids, get tear ducts flushed, and replenish reserves. They searched endlessly hoping against hope to find just one of the thousands of victims still alive. And in the process collected DNA samples of any body or body parts found to provide closure to those families that th ey could.

In the midst of this heroic effort, an act of even greater heroism was to occur. While searching the piles of rubble, Morgan and her human partner John encountered an area of extreme instability and fell through the surface John for one story and Morgan for three stories. Against all logic and against all odds, John managed to locate Morgan and get both of them out carrying her back to the veterinary station despite his broken arm. Once back there the worst was feared as Morgan was unconscious and severe internal injuries were suspected but John would not give up so easily and within two hours Morgan was awake. And even more amazingly within six hours she was back on the job working for another nine grueling days bringing peace to hundreds of families with the samples she found.

Once back home it became apparent over the next several weeks that the physical and mental trauma that Captain Morgan sustained had taken its toll , and the heart wrenching decision was made to retire her from active work. It also became apparent that she had continued to perform the grueling tasks asked of her at Ground Zero with painful injuries without complaint or failure to do her best which likely exacerbated those injuries.

Thus, with a heavy heart, her human partner, friend, and companion John decided that it was best for Morgan to be adopted and that is how I came to be so fortunate to share my life with this amazing dog. Already she has saved my life once by preventing a potential carjacking and she continues to bring honor to the canine species with her selfless acts and her loyalty to those around her. I am very blessed to have been entrusted with her care and am dedicated to giving her the greatest life possible because that is what she deserves.

Tragedy struck again last year for Morgan and the other members of the K9 Task Force as her canine partner Molly died suddenly from cancer suspected to be the result of her work at the World Trade Center. Both Morgan and Molly were willing to give their lives to serve others and in the end Molly did. And that is what being a hero is all about - putting others first, continuing to work and serve even when injured and the way is so very difficult, and making the lives of those around you a little bit better. May we all learn a lesson from these canine heroes.

Once again Morgan came to the call of our country in need. After 3 years of retirement, a special and urgent call came in for her help. Hurricane Katrina had hit New Orleans, flood waters rushing in. Once again John and Morgan were reunited, they hadn't worked together for a long time, as a matter of fact Morgan hadn't worked since her retirement. With out missing a command, she went to work, finding both live and dead citizens of New Orleans, then moved on to Mississippi to help.

This story of Morgan is in the memory of her partner Molly, who passed away last year from work related illness and to remind people everywhere that dogs represent the best in us........selfless, unconditional, sacrificing love. That is why she is now, and always will be, my hero.

Story submitted by -- Dee Morton

He had just saved her from a fire in her house, rescuing her by carrying her out of the house into her front yard, while he continued to fight the fire. She is pregnant.
When he finally got done putting the fire out, he sat down to catch his breath and rest. A photographer from the Charlotte , North Carolina newspaper, "The Observer," noticed her in the distance looking at the fireman.
He saw her walking straight toward the fireman and wondered what she was going to do.
As he raised his camera, she came up to the tired man who had saved her life and the lives of her babies and kissed him just as the photographer snapped this photograph.

It's Just a Dog
From: “Musings by Richard Biby”, Contributing Editor , Broken Arrow, OK

From time to time, people tell me, "lighten up, it's just a dog," or, "that's a lot of money for just a dog." They don't understand the distance traveled, the time spent, or the costs involved for "just a dog."

Some of my proudest moments have come about with "just a dog." Many hours have passed and my only company was "just a dog," but I did not once feel slighted. Some of my saddest moments have been brought about by "just a dog," and in those days of darkness, the gentle touch of "just a dog" gave me comfort and reason to overcome the day.

If you, too, think it's "just a dog," then you will probably understand phases like "just a friend," "just a sunrise," or "just a promise." "Just a dog" brings into my life the very essence of friendship, trust, and pure unbridled joy. "Just a dog" brings out the compassion and patience that make me a better person.

Because of "just a dog" I will rise early, take long walks and look longingly to the future. So for me and folks like me, it's not "just a dog" but an embodiment of all the hopes and dreams of the future, the fond memories of the past, and the pure joy of the moment. "Just a dog" brings out what's good in me and diverts my thoughts away from myself and the worries of the day.

I hope that someday they can understand that it's not "just a dog" but the thing that gives me humanity and keeps me from being "just a man." So the next time you hear the phrase "just a dog." just smile, because they "just don't understand."

SCMPD Canine Bruno Honored By Humane Society

Two men who were “caught in the act” of burglarizing an En-mark station on Wilmington Island during the early morning hours of February 5 are still behind bars, thanks to the help of a determined SCMPD canine named Bruno and handler Sgt. Greg Ernst.

The capture has earned Bruno and his handler the distinction of being formally recognized by the Savannah-Chatham Humane Society. The two received accolades during the organization’s annual meeting .

On February 5 shortly after 1:00 a.m., Sergeant Ernst along with his trusted canine companion, were part of a task force providing surveillance of businesses in response to a recent rash of commercial burglaries. Two men were observed cutting the power to the En-mark station when the task force moved in.

Bruno, alerted by his handler to the presence of trouble by the fleeing burglars, quickly gave chase, cornering the first suspect who was taken into custody and tracking the other into the marsh. The second capture, however, proved more of a challenge for Bruno and demonstrates the tenacious spirit and determination of this hard charging dynamic duo; and the reason they were honored.

After entering the marsh, Bruno engaged the suspect, a six-time convicted burglar who was as determined to escape as Bruno was to apprehend him. It became a battle of wills as the convicted felon repeatedly struck Bruno in the head, submerging him completely several times into the 3-4 foot tidal creek. With an unrelenting bite in the midst of being drowned, Bruno’s will to apprehend prevailed. The suspect finally surrendered and had to be taken to a local hospital for treatment before going to jail.

The extraordinary feats and tenacity of these animals never cease to amaze their professional handlers, and especially the Bad Guys who are typically on the other end of their unrelenting bite. What many see as extraordinary, whether it’s searching in the darkness of a crawl space, combing through the brush of wooded terrain, or dog paddling through a tidal creek, getting their man and pleasing the handler is all in a day's work for the SCMPD canine.

The two men captured have been linked to a number of commercial burglaries in the Savannah, Chatham County area, and will likely have a number of years to reflect upon their actions and their encounter with a canine named Bruno.

The director of the humane society, Robert Lee said, “The organization wants to recognize not only the contributions made by Bruno and his handler, but also the invaluable service the overall unit provides to our community.”







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