Fact Check


Does a photograph show a fireman receiving kiss of gratitude from a Doberman?

Published April 21, 2005


Claim:   Photograph shows fireman receiving kiss of gratitude from a Doberman he had just rescued from a house fire.

Status:   Real picture; inaccurate description.

Example:   [Collected on the Internet, 2005]

The exhausted fireman 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.

The firefighter was afraid of her at first, because he had never been around a Doberman before. 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 this red Doberman 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, when the Photographer snapped this photograph.

And people say animals are dumb!


Origins:   The scene pictured above was captured by Charlotte Observer photographer Patrick Schneider during a house fire in July 1999 and shows firefighter Jeff Clark receiving a doggie greeting from a pregnant red Doberman named Cinnamon. As the Observer described the circumstances behind the photograph in an April 2005 retrospective:

Charlotte firefighter Jeff Clark and Cinnamon, a pregnant red Doberman, gained international exposure with this photograph snapped by the Observer's Patrick Schneider during a July 1999 house fire. Seen through wire services and the Internet, the picture has moved people around the world and is still a top reprint seller.

However, the text that now accompanies e-mailed versions of the photograph is inaccurate in suggesting that Cinnamon was "thanking" firefighter Clark for saving her life "by carrying her out of the house into her front yard." As Clark himself explained, he didn't rescue the dog, and his encounter with her was pure happenstance:

We didn't do anything (special) to save Cinnamon. When we have a house fire, we have to do a primary search. There could be people home and inside. Our first major concern is life safety. That house was full of smoke and we couldn't see it very well. All I saw was a dog run out, and one was (already) in the backyard. I think Cinnamon got out the door herself.

The dog approached me. As soon as I knelt down and took my mask off, Patrick was coming around the corner of the house and took the picture.

Jeff Clark is still with the Charlotte Fire Department. Cinnamon eventually gave birth to five puppies and lived for several more years until she passed away in January 2005.

Last updated:   21 April 2005

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