K-9 deputy helps track down missing Alzheimer’s patient

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Grant County Sheriff’s Office/courtesy photo Deputy Dave De La Rosa and K-9 Deputy Grizzly.

EPHRATA — A four-legged deputy is being hailed as a hero for helping track an elderly Alzheimer's patient who wandered away from home early Wednesday morning.

About 3:30 a.m. deputies responded to the 11000 block of Road A Northwest, southeast of Ephrata, after a woman reported her 85-year-old husband, who is an Alzheimer's patient, was missing after possibly leaving through their garage door.

With temperatures in the single digits, the Ephrata Police Department, Grant County Fire District No. 13 and American Medical Response (AMR) ambulance sent additional resources to the scene to search for the man. Initial search efforts, which included the use of a thermal imaging camera, were not successful. Deputy Dave De La Rosa and K-9 Grizzly responded to the scene and reportedly located the man in a large hole about 100 yards from his residence.

The man, who injured his ankle and couldn’t walk, was taken to Columbia Basin Hospital in Ephrata for treatment of his ankle injury and treatment of exposure to the elements.

“That’s the great thing about Patrol K-9s,” Sheriff Tom Jones said. “Patrol K-9s can be used to search for bad guys, and they can also be used to search for the lost and injured. It’s without any doubt that K-9 Grizzly saved this man’s life.”

The sheriff’s office currently has three patrol K-9 teams, with a fourth team recently enrolling in training. Deputy Nick Overland and K-9 Chewbacca will be attending a K-9 training program in Spokane in early March.

Richard Byrd can be reached via email at city@columbiabasinherald.com.

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