Three years ago, Kelly Jernigan, a captain with the Winston-Salem Fire Department in North Carolina, adopted two Dobermans who’d had a rough life.
When one of them, Zion, first ventured out in his new backyard, “it’s almost like he had never seen grass before,” Jernigan told WGHP.
Sadly, Zion was later diagnosed with cancer. On Tuesday, Jernigan made the difficult decision to end her beloved 11-year-old dog’s suffering. His death had Jernigan “down all day yesterday and all day today,” she said on Wednesday.
Later that day, the fire department got a call about an apartment building on fire. As Jernigan and her fellow firefighters were making sure everyone had evacuated safely from the building, they heard barking. It was a small dog, named Cinnamon, who was alone in one of the apartments while her owner, Ann Love, was at work.
Jernigan gently lifted the frightened dog into her arms and carried her out of the building.
“Just getting her, you can tell she’s very skittish and I would be, too,” she told WGHP. “You know, somebody coming up looking like this, with helmets and gloves.”
Rescuing Cinnamon was “kind of good timing for me,” Jernigan said. “It kind of helps me heal.” She brought Cinnamon inside the cab of a fire truck and gave her water. She probably got a good, much-needed laugh when the little dog accidentally sounded the siren.
Jernigan then rigged up a makeshift leash and walked Cinnamon over to her grateful owner, who had rushed home from work when she heard about the fire.
Cinnamon jumped up into her crying dog mom’s arms. “To know that she was okay, it made my day,” Love told WGHP. “I love her.”
It made Jernigan’s day as well. “Once I got my hands on this one, it’s like all is right with the world,” she told WGHP.
Three people were displaced by the fire, WGHP reports, but fortunately no one — with two legs or four legs — was injured, thanks to the heroic efforts of Jernigan and her colleagues.
Tissue alert: WGHP captured Jernigan’s rescue of Cinnamon in this video.
Photo (not Zion): Skeeze