A Winnebago County Sheriff’s K-9 is used to performing good deeds on the job. A woman who’d been reported missing for several hours over the weekend is receiving much needed medical attention — thanks to the pup’s tracking skills.
For Deputy Thomas Warmoth, his dog, Ares, is much more than his best friend. He’s also his partner. The pair was deployed after a caller reported his 22-year-old girlfriend left their Bibury Drive home for a walk — but never returned. The initial responding deputy briefed Warmoth on where the man said the woman usually goes for walks. That’s when Ares jumped into action.
“I was able to read him” said Warmoth. “I could see he had gone into a tracking behavior and we started to following the path.”
Ares then began to lead them towards Atwood Park — two miles away in New Milford.
“[He] pulled [me] right to a spot where you can see a small opening,” explained Warmoth. “He just started barking and that’s an indication that somebody is close. At that point, we started making voice contact and the young lady responded back to us and we were able to identify where she was.”
Warmoth says the woman was semi conscious and suffering from a medical episode when they found her. Officials say K9s usually pick up a track after five to twenty minutes. But for Ares, it’d been six hours since the woman went missing.
“I was in awe, honestly,” said Warmoth. “I was amazed that he was able to take a track that old and actually locate somebody. That’s pushing the edge to anything he can do.”
Warmoth says his three-year-old dutch shepherd continues to surprise him even after two years together. The deputy says in that time, he’s spent 1, 500 hours training Ares in tracking alone.
“Their noses are so much more proficient than our noses,” said Warmoth. “They’re able to smell where you walk, they’re able to smell where someone has hidden narcotics. They’re able to do all these different things that a human couldn’t do.”
Warmoth adds while they go on calls every day — ones like Saturday’s mean the most to the pair.
“When you’re actually able to help somebody out who is having a huge problem and you’re able to find them when you don’t think you could’ve any other way…. it’s about the greatest feeling in the world.”
Ares is one of five Winnebago County K9’s. Warmoth says each dog goes through a ten-week academy before joining the force just like any other deputy.