WASHINGTON COUNTY (KFSM) – A six-year-old Belgian Malinois K9 was credited with helping save a teenager’s life, after two hikers were lost on a Lake Weddington trail last week.
The Washington County Sheriff’s Office said Sgt. T.J. Rennie and his K9 partner “Ranger” were dispatched to the lake, after a 911 call reported two siblings lost in the woods.
The hikers, a brother and sister, went off trail and called 911 as the sun was setting, reporting they were lost.
“It was about 8:30 or 8:40 at night. So, it was about to get dark,” Rennie said.
Rennie, and Ranger, were part of a group of deputies which responded.
“We started hitting our sirens and putting our lights on, since it was getting dark,” Rennie said. “[The hikers] couldn’t hear or see us.”
The importance of the response increased, when the 911 caller said his sister was starting to have seizures.
“At that point, first responders were getting on scene. But, it was dark, so time was short,” Rennie said. “[The hikers] didn’t know where they were. They couldn’t tell us where they were. They thought they were somewhere completely different than where they were.”
After accidentally providing wrong directions, all of the deputies on scene started searching in one direction. However, Ranger picked up a distinct odor, and started running the opposite direction.
“It was at the bottom of a ravine. I think the odor was just pooling, and he was pulling me to the odor,” Rennie said. “[Ranger] started pulling me up the side of the hill. And once we went that way, I could see a cell phone light.”
The odor Ranger sensed was the smell of the two hikers. Ranger followed the unique odor for more than 20 minutes, before ultimately locating the duo.
Rennie was able to pinpoint his location, and called in search and rescue.
Rennie said it was times like this, that made thousands of hours of training with Ranger well worth it.
“Had we not had Ranger, there is no telling how long it would have taken us to find them up there.”
As of last report, the two hikers were treated, and returned home healthy and safe.