A police dog played a crucial role in finding an 11-year-old girl who went missing in Florida. The Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office responded to a call for a missing-person case last Friday.
The police dog, Mary Lu, and Deputy Sarah Ernstes were part of the search operation. Bodycam footage captured the moment when Mary Lu led Deputy Ernstes to a public bathroom in a park. The dog’s keen sense of smell indicated that the girl was inside, and her “happy tail” movement confirmed it.
Deputy Ernstes and another officer approached the locked bathroom, assuring the girl it was safe to come out. They convinced her to unlock the door, and the little girl emerged unharmed.
Deputy Ernstes asked if she liked dogs and encouraged her to receive a comforting kiss from Mary Lu as a reward. Despite initial hesitation, the girl embraced the hero-dog, creating a heartwarming moment.
On January 26, 2024, at 7:57 p.m., Deputy Sarah Ernstes and K9 Mary Lu responded to the 16000 block of Carlton Lake Drive to assist in the search for the missing and endangered 11-year-old girl.
Sheriff Chad Chronister expressed pride in the HCSO K9 Unit for their exceptional skills in locating and bringing the girl home safely. The team’s commitment to service and determination to protect and serve were commended.
After Mary Lu’s initial tracking, deputies followed the trail to a neighbor’s house. The residents had driven the 11-year-old to an apartment building.
It is unclear if the girl left her home willingly, and why the neighbors gave her a ride remains unknown. No one has been charged in connection to her disappearance so far.