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JoAnna Lou
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N.Y. Hero Named K-9 of the Year
SAR dog ignores his handler in order to save a missing man

A New York police dog was named K-9 of the Year on Saturday by the Suffolk County SPCA. Last week, Chase, a 4-year old German Shepherd, located a missing Long Island man after unfruitful efforts by human rescuers.

Jerome Nadler, a 76-year old doctor and Vietnam War veteran, disappeared on Labor Day after going fly-fishing. Rescuers used divers, off-road vehicles, and a helicopter in an unsuccessful three-day search before asking Suffolk County’s K-9 Search and Rescue team to join the effort.

It wasn’t long before Chase found Jerome in a thick wooded area that rescuers were already veering away from. The man was dehydrated and covered in bug bites, but thanks to Chase's skill and perseverence, Jerome is now recovering in the hospital.

Chase, who is trained to stay with a found person, waited by Jerome’s side even when he was being called back by his handler, Sam Barreto. Chase didn’t move until Sam and the other officers caught up.

I’d love to know what was going through Chase’s brain. We know he’s is an extremely obedient dog, but he was also smart enough to distinguish between a more important behavior, staying with Jerome, and what his handler was asking, to return to the group.

We’ll probably never know what Chase was thinking, but it’s very impressive that the heroic pup is able to negotiate priorities. The possibilities of the human-canine bond certainly seem limitless!

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JoAnna Lou is a New York City-based researcher, writer and agility enthusiast.

Screenshot from News 12 Long Island.

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