KINGS MOUNTAIN STATE PARK, S.C. (QUEEN CITY NEWS) — A Harnett County Sheriff’s Office K-9 and his handler had a happy reunion after a 25-hour-long search in the Kings Mountain State Park.
“That’s the happiest man in York County right there,” York County Sheriff Kevin Tolson said on Thursday.
Harnett County Sheriff’s Office deputy Mike McCoy teared up after his K-9 named Gunner was back by his side.
“Nothing a whole lot I can say right now, just that I appreciate what everyone did,” McCoy said.
During a K9 training event Wednesday, Gunner took off into the woods, quickly disappearing into the 2,000 square miles of forest and backroads.
After dozens of deputies searched for the dog without luck, more came to help find the three-year-old bloodhound.
“I got a call out from York County Sheriff’s Department to see if we were available to help look for a lost K-9,” volunteer Deb Myers said.
Volunteers and several agencies searched the park on foot, horseback, and ATV for two days.
“We are going to try to help find it,” Myers said.
A group of investigators had just started their search when they stumbled upon Gunner.
“She gets down and just grabs the dog and says, ‘I am not letting this dog go,’ that’s how she did it. And I was like, ‘Oh, what’s this dog’s name?’ It said Gunner, and I said, ‘Oh God, that’s him.’ So that’s when we found him,” one of the investigators said.
Tolson chalked up the dog’s wandering to the sight of a random deer.
“They are born and bred with God-given tools that no other animal has to track,” he said. “He got on a deer, and that’s nature, and that’s probably what he did all night, was run that deer, and that’s why he’s exhausted.”
“What is that feeling like to finally have him back?” Queen City News asked the handler.
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“It’s a big relief. We looked all last night. I was up this morning at 5:30, out the door looking and riding everywhere, hollering his name. I can hardly even talk now,” McCoy said.
Officials say Gunner has already had an immense effect on law enforcement. The dog has contributed to 35 successful missions, many of them involving missing people.