LIKE LOSING A KID: Pittenger, CCPD excited to find K9 Stryker safe

COLUMBIA CITY — “That was probably the sickest feeling I’ve had in law enforcement,” K9 handler Tim Pittenger said. Pittenger’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 Department’s investments was stranded in Tuesday night’s thunderstorm, and ended up in a goat pen on Hathaway Road. “My husband and I were getting ready to leave and I saw him in the pasture,” Arani Wentland said. “The goats were all lying around him.”Wentland said she got Stryker something to eat and put a rope on him.“I was going to call animal control, but I pulled up the photo of the missing police dog, and he looked just like the photo,” Wentland said.Wentland called 911, and an off-duty Allen County sheriff’s deputy met with Wentland and Stryker, until Pittenger arrived.“I’m overwhelmed that he was found safe,” Pittenger said. “I cannot express the gratitude I have for everyone who helped look for him. The community’s response was unreal.”Pittenger has had Stryker since he was six weeks old, and Columbia City Police Chief Tim Longenbaugh said there’s a very close bond between the two. Pittenger said Stryker has been part of his family since he was a young puppy.“It’d be like your kid getting away from you,” Pittenger said. “I felt helpless. I didn’t get any sleep last night. I had a lot of tears, a lot of unknowns — sickness in my stomach. I went to see my two daughters and gave them a hug. They said a prayer for Stryker and I’m pretty sure it worked.”After Pittenger picked up Stryker, he was checked out by the veterinarian, and is expected to go back to his normal duties — 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.