A PET pooch has been hailed a “hero” after joining a search party on his own accord and finding a missing elderly woman.
Ten-month-old Patterdale terrier Flash was part of an extensive rescue for the woman who went missing on the evening of Saturday July 22.
Unbeknown to his 13-year-old owner Elijah Ward, Flash left his home in Barmpton, Darlington, and helped to locate the woman who was found after a 14-hour search.
Sergeant Barry Evans, from Durham Constabulary, said: “As officers worked down the field and the helicopter was overhead, a dog belonging to a local resident had accompanied officers as they searched the fields.
“Flash went and laid down near a hedgerow. He appeared to be indicating at something. This led a family member of the missing person to discover the woman, found apparently unhurt from the overnight exposure although a little distressed.”
PC Karl Heseltine, who was involved in the search, added: “The dog definitely played a part. Without Flash, she might not have been found so soon.
“A lot of police staff stayed back after their shift to continue to look for the woman. You put yourself in the family’s shoes and want to do everything you can.
“It involved more than 20 officers, search and rescue, members of the public and police helicopter. It was a team effort. The whole community chipped in.”
The missing woman’s daughter, who would like to remain anonymous, said: “We are just so grateful to everyone involved. We can’t thank them enough. Everyone was brilliant and rallied around to help, even people we didn’t know.
“The dog was absolutely lovely.”
Elijah’s father, Elijah Snr, said: “Flash is an outside dog. We have a smallholding and he often wanders by himself but we noticed he went missing on the night and returned the next morning. We only realised what he’d done after speaking to neighbours and police. Now we wonder if he stayed with her all night.
“We went straight out and bought him lots of treats. He’s a little hero really.
“We’re just glad of the outcome. The lady was found safe and well. That’s all that matters.”
Elijah Jnr said: “He’s amazing. I’m so proud.”
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