HAMLET — Police mounted a scrupulous search Thursday for missing police dog Rudy, who they think escaped the kennel in his handler’s backyard during Independence Day fireworks.
Every patrol officer was on the lookout, as were police brass. Firefighters also lent a hand when they could.
“It’s been all over the place,” patrol Capt. Marc Terry said of tips that had poured in since the department posted Rudy’s AWOL status online and set up a series of robocalls that even contacted the department itself. “People are trying to help us.”
One hopeful citizen posted a prayer on the police department’s Facebook page: “Lord Jesus,” he said. “Please bring Rudy home. He is loved and is missed. Please keep him safe …”
Another wondered whether fellow Hamlet K-9 Edy (pronounced “Eddie”) could find Rudy. Both dogs are trained in drug interdiction and tracking.
City Manager Jonathan Blanton said Thursday afternoon that someone contacted the city saying Rudy had been spotted in Maxton, nearly 30 miles away and an unlikely prospect.
Charlotte’s Channel 9 and Charlotte Observer also called seeking comment on the event, apparently after spotting shared Facebook posts put out by the police.
“People from far and wide want to know where our dog is,” Blanton said, though he said he wasn’t sure what help people in Charlotte could offer.
The search continued into the evening.
Chief Scott Waters theorized that Rudy could have been hiding in the shade since it was so hot and hoped the dog would start moving again as temperatures became cooler.
He also acknowledged the “team effort” in the search, saying the department was getting help from the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office, Hamlet City Council members and residents, some on ATVs tackling the terrain patrol cars couldn’t cover.
“Everybody’s stepping up and helping us,” he said.
Rudy, then 2, came to Hamlet last year to work with K-9 Sgt. Britt Emert. (Edy went to fledgling K-9 officer Greg Stone.) The dog is a Belgian Malinois and not a German shepherd like Edy, although the dogs look similar.
The department bought Rudy from a K-9 trainer in Scotland County, using a $1,000 grant from Walmart for part of his fee. Hamlet’s City Council approved picking up the rest of the tab for the dog and his training, which amounted to “several thousands” of dollars, Blanton said.
By 9 p.m., the search team had expanded to include Cordova Fire and Rescue and more riders on ATVs.
If Rudy had not shown up by morning, the chief said the N.C. Highway Patrol would be assisting from the air.
“He’s smart and I think he’ll find his way home,” Waters said.
William R. Toler contributed to this story. Reach Christine Carroll at 910-817-2673 or [email protected]