Occasionally it is important to specifically recognize an accomplishment that is not common. This happened last month for two of my deputies involving an incident from last fall. Recognition is important for a variety of reasons, especially if it is used to evaluate a program and its worth to an organization, or in this case to a community and family.
On the afternoon of September 9, 2010, our K-9 Titan and Sgt Dane Kanable were summoned to respond to the Richland Center High School. Richland Center Police Officer Billy Jones had requested their assistance in helping him locate a missing student who was believed to be in the wooded area behind the High School. While responding Sgt. Kanable asked Officer Jones to locate someone who had possibly witnessed the missing student leave the grounds, so that he and Titan had a specific point of reference to begin their tracking.
Fortunately the High School principle was able to pin point a location where the missing student left the black top parking lot. Sgt. Kanable snapped the long line on Titan and began the tracking. Nose to the ground and up the hill they went foraging through the tall grass with officer Jones following as the “backup” officer.
The tracking continued across an old fence row and into a cornfield. After crossing through the corn field Titan was presented with a clearing that led to an old grassy hill road. Once Titan got to this road he slowed, turned 90 degrees to the left and began tracking at a faster pace for another approximately 50 yards following the grassy road. After the 50 yards Titan stopped his fast track and began pulling off the road into a wall of thorny vegetation.
Both Sgt Kanable and Officer Jones wondered aloud how anyone could have gone through the mess of tangled thorns and vegetation. Trusting his dog, Sgt. Kanable yelled to Titan “let’s go” and the tracking continued as the sniffing K-9 and officers plowed through the thorns. After getting through the thorns, Titan started to pull harder on the leash line and the previously thick vegetation opened up to a forest area with low vegetation. Sgt. Kanable reported that he looked ahead and saw what he thought looked like clothing ahead in the forest vegetation. Officers called out the missing student’s name but there was no response or movements. The tracking continued to the spot of clothing. As officers Kanable and Jones made their way closer they could see that it was the missing student laying down unconscious. Both officers immediately then began first aid measures and called for assistance to their location. Once additional assistance arrived, the unconscious missing student was transferred to the Richland Hospital for medical treatment. The young student eventually recovered and was released from the hospital.
Sgt. Kanable and K-9 Titan were nominated for their actions in this incident. Last month they received the “Meritorious K-9 Tracking Award” by the W.L.E.C.H.A. (Wisconsin Law Enforcement Canine Handlers Association) for this life saving track.
Quick thinking by the local school officials as well as an excellent “site assessment” by Officer Jones aided Sgt. Kanable and Titan in this rescue track. Congratulations to them and to Sgt. Kanable and Titan for a job well done!
Congratulations also to our many community supporters who initially help start and continue to support our K-9 project! We could not have accomplished a K-9 program without you. With to two confirmed “life saving” tracks now and the many, many illegal drug “finds” there is no question in my mind that our Sheriff’s Department’s first K-9 program has proven its worth many times over these last 3 years.