Police K-9 helps track down missing man in woods in Putnam County

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Wednesday, March 29, 2023
Police K-9 helps track down missing man in Putnam County
Officer DeSantola and K-9 Pietro answered the call and assisted New York State Police in Somers around 3:30 p.m. Marcus Solis has the story.

CARMEL, New York (WABC) -- A police K-9 helped track down a vulnerable missing 63-year-old man in the woods over the weekend.

Officer Vincent DeSantola and K-9 Pietro answered the call and assisted New York State Police around 3:30 p.m. Sunday.

The man had wandered off between the homes of two family members who live next to each other.

"After like 10 minutes I went to the house and he wasn't there so we went into recovery mode," the man's brother Tom Phillips said.

The man had been missing for more than an hour and had a cellphone but the battery had died.

That's where DeSantola and Pietro stepped in. The 2-year-old German shepherd from Slovakia was determined to be a better option than a state police K-9 because of his ability to zero in on one particular scent.

"The guy was carrying a canvas bag earlier in the day so I used that canvas bag to get that specific person's odor from those items and now he's directly focused on that odor and no one else," DeSantola said.

DeSantola began the track and K-9 Pietro led him for nearly a mile - along roadways, through several backyards and finally into a wooded area where he located the missing man just before 4 p.m.

"If the dog didn't indicate that the guy was to my right, I would have never even looked that way," DeSantola said.

The man was evaluated by EMS and said to be OK before he was returned safely to the care of his family.

Phillips and his wife dropped off treats for the officers and Pietro to show their appreciation.

The grateful family of the man found safe sent treats -- for both humans and K-9 Pietro -- to say thanks.

Carmel Police Department

"Like superhuman, here we've got six men and women looking for him and the dog finds him, so it was really cool," Phillips said.

DeSantola said all the hard work paid off.

"It's like winning the Super Bowl, we train for it all the time," DeSantola said.

Pietro clearly has scent tracking down, but most police dogs are dual purpose, which means in a couple of weeks he'll go back to school for training on how to detect narcotics.

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