Lifestyle & Human Interest

85-Year-Old with Dementia Goes Missing, K-9 Officer Finds Her Hours Later After She Fell into Ravine


A New Jersey K-9 officer has been credited with locating a missing 85-year-old woman with dementia who wandered away from her home.

Loreta Dabajo, 85, lives with her son, Christoper Dabajo in their New Jersey home. Though she has dementia, Christopher Dabajo told WSLS-TV that his mother had never wandered away from the household before.

Christopher Dabajo was shocked and dismayed when he walked into his mother’s bedroom to wake her up on the morning of Oct. 30, a routine the pair was accustomed to. Rather than seeing his mother in her bed, as usual, the bed was empty and she had vanished.

The Dabajo family quickly searched their home and the surrounding area for Loreta, but there was no sign of her.

Concerned, Christopher Dabajo contacted the police for help finding his mother.

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According to WSLS-TV, the Essex County Sheriff’s Department put one of their sniffer dogs, K-9 Officer Joe, on the case.

K-9 Joe sniffed one of Loreta’s pillows, and then was on the hunt for the missing woman. The dog searched several backyards before leading the search and rescue team to a ravine.

On the ground, in a heap of leaves, was Loreta. She was lost and unable to get out of the ravine.

Christopher Dabajo was overcome with emotion when he saw his mother laying there helplessly.

“I almost cried when I saw my mom lying there,” Dabajo said. “It was scary when I saw my mom lying there in the leaves, so scared.”

Thanks to K-9 Joe, Loreta was found quickly, before she found herself in a life-threatening situation. She suffered a cut on her hand, and according to Dabajo, had no recollection of how she ended up alone in the ravine.

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As his mother recovered in a hospital, Dabajo praised the swift actions of K-9 Joe for helping his family during a stressful situation.

“That dog is like a hero to us,” Dabajo said.

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A graduate of Grand Canyon University, Kim Davis has been writing for The Western Journal since 2015, focusing on lifestyle stories.
Kim Davis began writing for The Western Journal in 2015. Her primary topics cover family, faith, and women. She has experience as a copy editor for the online publication Thoughtful Women. Kim worked as an arts administrator for The Phoenix Symphony, writing music education curriculum and leading community engagement programs throughout the region. She holds a degree in music education from Grand Canyon University with a minor in eating tacos.
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