Search-and-rescue K9 tracks down missing teen


K9s are an invaluable part of any police department. With their incredible sense of smell, police dogs can do many things human officers can’t, like finding a person by tracking their scent — a skill plays an especially crucial role when it comes to finding missing people.

Like one smart dog, who is being praised as a hero after tracking down a missing teen.

On Saturday evening, a 17-year-old in Pennington County, South Dakota was reported missing by his family.

“An out-of-state family was vacationing in the Black Hills,” the Pennington County Sheriff’s Office told Newsweek. “There was some sort of dispute and the teen voluntarily left the family and was hiding.”

Officers from the officers from Pennington County Sheriff’s Office, U.S. Forest Service, and South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks were all called in to help look for the missing teen, who disappeared near the Pactola Reservoir.

Also on the case: the Pennington County Search and Rescue K-9 team, who brought along a search dog named Tango.

Tango, an Australian Shepherd, is one of two dogs employed by the Pennington County Search & Rescue, and plays a crucial part in helping them search for lost people.

“Both dogs are deployed to search missions in Pennington County and throughout western South Dakota,” the Sheriff’s Office wrote. “While the dogs work differently, they can both scent discriminate, meaning they can find a specific person from an article of clothing, vehicle, etc.”

“The dog and handler teams work in all types of weather and terrain, in urban and wilderness areas.”

That skill very much came in handy this weekend, as Tango joined the search for the missing teen.

Searching through the Pactola Reservoir — the largest and deepest reservoir in the Black Hills National Forest — would be a daunting task for any search and rescue team, Tango’s sense of smell and expert tracking skills made the job a whole lot easier.

“Tango was deployed from the area the teen was last seen, and was able to lead searchers to the missing teen,” the Sheriff’s Office wrote on Facebook.

They said the teen was found “safe and unharmed,” and returned to his family that evening.

It was clear that Tango played a critical role in the rescue mission. The Sheriff’s Office told Newsweek that while the officers had searched the area by drone for hours without success, Tango “led them right to the teen” even though he was “well hidden.”

The original Facebook post sharing the story has over a hundred comments, all praising Tango as a hero for saving the teen.

“This is what we train for—lots of hard work,” Tiana Schuster, Tango’s handler, told Newsweek. “With Tango, it was eight years in the making, and we absolutely love what we do. We are glad to be a resource that can be used and helpful in circumstances like this.”

It’s incredible what K9s can do. Another missing person brought home safely thanks to a smart dog!

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