Hero K-9 Finds Missing Age 3 Boy with Autism in Just 28 Minutes
Most people have strong associations with certain dog breeds. Golden retriever? Family dog. German shepherd? K-9. Saint Bernard? Avalanche rescue (or Beethoven).
Bloodhounds, being scent hounds, have a valuable asset in their nose. They love to sniff and wander and are a large breed that can go for miles, giving them a somewhat negative reputation as a pet that is strong-willed and will ignore all else to follow a scent.
The same characteristics that make them potentially troublesome housemates makes them excellent working dogs, and they’re naturally suited to tracking specific scents and finding lost people.
On Sept. 15, one of the Santa Rosa County sheriff K-9s — a bloodhound, of course — proved its tracking prowess when it found a lost child in dense woods — in under half an hour.
Young Aedric of Santa Rosa County, Florida, only 3 years old, has autism and got away from his grandmother on the evening of Sept. 15. He took his opportunity while grandma was using the bathroom.
She’d deadbolted the front door, but the clever young boy unlocked it and away he went. Heading for the woods, he was soon lost from view and did not come back.
His mother, Audra Hughes, was terrified when she heard about her son’s disappearance.
“The most terrifying words a mother can get on the phone is ‘your child is missing, get home right now,'” she said, according to the Miami Herald.
While law enforcement scoured the area behind the home for two hours, they couldn’t find the 3-year-old.
So they called in backup, in the form of one of the department’s four-legged officers. While no specific information about the particular canine was offered other than that it was a bloodhound, the dog was present at the news conference the next morning, after it did its good and necessary work.
Sheriff Bob Johnson said the diligent dog found Aedric within minutes.
“Once the dog hit the ground, it was 28 minutes until we got the child,” he said.
Hughes said that the news was “the best news I’ve ever heard in my life.” Her son was back in her arms — scraped up and bug-bitten, but healthy and whole.
Santa Rosa County District One posted photos to Facebook to commend the sheriff’s office and their bloodhounds.
“Great job Santa Rosa County Sheriff’s Office!” they posted on their Facebook page. “Their bloodhounds found a missing 3 year old autistic boy who was lost in the woods today. Thank you to everyone else that [came] out to help with this effort.
During the news conference the next day, Aedric was presented with a giant stuffed animal wearing a shirt, which will no doubt help him remember the happy ending to what could have been a tragic accident.
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