Ground Zero K-9 Retires - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

09/30/02

Ground Zero K-9 Retires

Lt. Frank and Capt. Morgan

She's been training in search and rescue since she was a puppy, and now, due to injuries suffered at Ground Zero, K-9 Captain Morgan has to retire at age four. WTOC's been following the incredible story of Southside Fire Department Lt. John Frank and his K-9 partner since they left for Ground Zero just hours after the collapse of the Twin Towers. Both searched for survivors and victims, and both fell and were injured during that search.

Veterinarians initially diagnosed Captain Morgan to be in reasonable good health. After a considerable amount of time, her injuries became worse. They've been through the worst possible tragedy that anybody could ever imagine, and although it's been more than a year, Lt. Frank will forever be haunted by the decision he was forced to make.

"When we fell, we hit," he recalled. "I had to let her go."

The injuries Captain Morgan sustained at Ground Zero have finally taken their toll. It's a hard reality that none of her partners want to face.

"It's been depressing," said Lt. Frank. "Morgan and I've been through so much and she's such a devoted and energetic dog, and very good at what she does, and it's been depressing with the news we've received."

"I know she wants to work and I want her to help us and help everyone else, but she can't," said Assistant Chief Jason Berrang. "It's going to hurt her too much. It's been sad seeing her the last few days, she sits there and whines because the pain is getting to her too much."

But this fire captain is not throwing in her leash just yet.

"She's on limited duty right now for medical reasons," explained Frank. "If there's a lost child or some cadaver work, we'll go ahead and do that, but as far as full activity, she's out. Once the new dog arrives, she'll be retired."

"It'll be a great loss for us. Us and everyone else," added Berrang.

Even though Captain Morgan will be leaving the force, she won't be leaving the man she trusts most. She'll be living with Lt. Frank.

The new K-9 that will be taking Captain Morgan's place is on standby. But because of the lack of funding, the Southside Fire Department will have to delay getting its new partner. It will be a transition that none of them say will be easy.

Reported by: Nicole Teigen

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