A police K-9 with the Richland County, South Carolina, Sheriff’s Department recently located an elderly woman with dementia after she went missing for several days.
Police credited the dog, which is specially trained in locating missing persons, with saving the woman’s life.
Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott said that police began searching for 78-year-old Kiziah Goodwin after she suddenly disappeared from her home in Eastover on July 19.
Two days after she went missing, deputies found her car and part of a shoe in a remote corner of Calhoun County, but there was no sign of Goodwin.
After combing the area the following day and night, no further clues turned up.
That is when police decided to bring in Hammer, a cadaver dog trained in finding human remains and missing persons using its extraordinary sense of smell. The 4-year-old Czech shepherd sniffed the shoe and lead deputies straight to Goodwin, who they found leaned up against a tree in the sweltering summer heat.
“There was no way she would’ve survived that day,” Lott said. “The dog saved her.”
Hammer is one of four new K-9 units at the Richland County Sheriff’s Department, which has a total of 22 units. The new dogs specialize in locating missing persons and human remains.
“We were missing human remains detection,” Lott said. “This is making our department even better.”
Other K-9s at the department focus on bombs, guns and electronic device detection. And there’s even a therapy dog.
K-9 handler and trainer Michel Galliot, who has worked with law enforcement for over five years, brought the four dogs with him when he joined the department at the beginning of summer. Galliot and his dogs were key in locating the body of Alisa Woods in May this year. Woods’ body was found buried in Newberry County Forest after her boyfriend confessed to her murder.
“The family needs to have some closure. With these new dogs, we can do that,” Lott said.
Goodwin is the second missing person the dogs have found since joining the department.
“In a short time, we have witnessed what Michel and his dogs are capable of. Having them on the RCSD K9 team will continue to be invaluable, and I look forward to seeing what they accomplish here,” Lott said.