A missing senior man was found safe and sound by a K-9 Search and Rescue team on Tuesday morning, several hours after he had disappeared after walking in the woods near his property.
Authorities received a call about the missing man shortly after 6 p.m. after Richard Taylor failed to return home from a routine walk. Taylor, who suffers from dementia, had allegedly left the house a couple of hours earlier. His family and friends ultimately combed the surrounding area without success before alerting police.
Daniel Lampignano, a handler with the New England K-9 Search and Rescue team, and Logan, his German Shepherd successfully located the man safe shortly after 1 a.m. in the morning, less than 6/10th of a mile from his property. With the team’s help, Taylor was eventually able to walk out of the area on foot. He was subsequently taken to the hospital for a checkup.
Lampignano had been told about the search by Donna Larson, one of the training officers for the K-9 Unit, at approximately 10:30 p.m. on Monday. Within minutes, the handler and canine were on their way to the woods.
In total, four K-9 units worked together with the Alexandria fire and police departments, Fish and Game, the Upper Valley Wilderness Response Team, and state police.
According to Lampignano, he knew something was going on when Logan took off during the search. Not long afterward, he heard someone call out. It was Taylor.
Following the voice, he eventually caught up to Logan, who was standing beside Taylor. Lampignano, who works full-time as a physician, was relieved to see the man in good health. He promptly praised the pup for being a good dog and judging by the way he was strutting around, Logan was also pleased with himself, according to Lampignano.
Using Their Noses on the Job
Larson, the coordinator for New England K-9, said her rescue group, which consists of volunteers, relies on “air scent” dogs to locate individuals.
This has to do with the fact that humans are regularly losing skin cells, that can be traced via scent. These dogs, which have strong hunting instincts, are trained to follow these scents. When the canine finds the missing individual, they are trained to go back to their handler – it means they’ve located someone.
Following a successful search, the dogs will typically follow the individual they’ve found.
Lampignano also added that these canines know when they’re on an actual search and not just training. They allegedly become more duty-bound, more serious, and more attentive.
Larson said most of the New England K-9 members have full-time jobs but make the time to train weekly. They also spend money out of their own pockets to care for the pups as well as the gas needed to arrive at the search sites, which are often several hours from their neighborhood. Over the years, they’ve looked for despondent adults, autistic children, and seniors with dementia.