KOBE -- A Japanese police dog who ran away from the force has found a missing elderly woman just three days after his return to active duty, the Mainichi Shimbun has learned.
The 2-year-old Hyogo Prefectural Police German Shepherd had only returned to front-line service on Feb. 4 following some three months of retraining, after he absconded during a mountain search operation.
According the Fukiai Police Station in Kobe, the family of a woman in her 80s in the city's Chuo Ward called police at around 12:30 p.m. on Feb. 7, saying, "(The woman) went missing after leaving the house." The police station requested the canine be dispatched for the search at around 3 p.m. the same day.
Upon arriving at the woman's home, the dog sniffed her pillow before embarking on a tracking mission at around 4:30 p.m. The dog kept walking for about 1.7 kilometers, constantly sniffing the ground, before finally discovering the woman on a street in a Chuo Ward residential area at around 5:20 p.m. The woman was unscathed and returned home safely.
During the search, the dog managed to "catch only the woman's scent despite there being a mix of smells due to heavy traffic" when he passed near a train station in the city's Nada Ward, according to a senior officer.
When the dog stopped sniffing and looked up, an accompanying officer reportedly spotted the missing woman.
The dog will receive a commendation from the head of the Fukiai Police Station, which made the search request, on Feb. 12. "It's not exactly a treat, but we're thinking about giving him a certificate of merit and a chew bone," a police station representative said.
In October 2020, the dog ran off on Mount Nagusa in the Hyogo prefectural town of Fukusaki, where he had been mobilized to search for a missing person. He was found two days later. He now has a GPS-equipped collar.
(Japanese original by Shota Harumashi, Kobe Bureau)