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COLUMBIA CITY â€” â€śThat was probably the sickest feeling Iâ€™ve had in law enforcement,â€ť K9 handler Tim Pittenger said.
Pittengerâ€™s police dog, Stryker, went missing Tuesday afternoon, but was found Wednesday morning in Allen County, at least eight miles from home. One of the Columbia City Police Departmentâ€™s investments was stranded in Tuesday nightâ€™s thunderstorm, and ended up in a goat pen on Hathaway Road.
â€śMy husband and I were getting ready to leave and I saw him in the pasture,â€ť Arani Wentland said. â€śThe goats were all lying around him.â€ť
Wentland said she got Stryker something to eat and put a rope on him.
â€śI was going to call animal control, but I pulled up the photo of the missing police dog, and he looked just like the photo,â€ť Wentland said.
Wentland called 911, and an off-duty Allen County sheriffâ€™s deputy met with Wentland and Stryker, until Pittenger arrived.
â€śIâ€™m overwhelmed that he was found safe,â€ť Pittenger said. â€śI cannot express the gratitude I have for everyone who helped look for him. The communityâ€™s response was unreal.â€ť
Pittenger has had Stryker since he was six weeks old, and Columbia City Police Chief Tim Longenbaugh said thereâ€™s a very close bond between the two. Pittenger said Stryker has been part of his family since he was a young puppy.
â€śItâ€™d be like your kid getting away from you,â€ť Pittenger said. â€śI felt helpless. I didnâ€™t get any sleep last night. I had a lot of tears, a lot of unknowns â€” sickness in my stomach. I went to see my two daughters and gave them a hug. They said a prayer for Stryker and Iâ€™m pretty sure it worked.â€ť
After Pittenger picked up Stryker, he was checked out by the veterinarian, and is expected to go back to his normal duties â€” sniffing for drugs and apprehending suspects.
For a more in-depth look at this story, see the Jan. 31 issue of The Post and Mail. Don't have a subscription? Call (260) 244-5153 or subscribe to our e-edition. For breaking news, sports updates and additional coverage, bookmark the homepage and find us on facebook.