It was a normal training exercise for Gunner and his handler that day.
Gunner and his handler came from Virginia for this training exercise. They were in the area of the Living History Farm inside Kings Mountain State Park in South Carolina when something spooked Gunner.
He broke free from his handler and ran off into the woods.
This happened at around 3:00 pm.
Even though they know the area, it’s going to be hard to look for this K9 dog amidst the vast forest and its backroads.
But they sure will try.
And so the search for Gunner has begun.
They’ve dispatched K9 tracking teams from South & North Carolina, Georgia, Virginia, Alabama, and Indiana to conduct the search for the missing K9 dog.
They used all their resources to look for Gunner, from other K9 dogs to ATVs, and even helicopters. They will stop at nothing to find their canine partner.
They did all this search while still conducting the training exercise.
The search also included help and support from Gaston County PD, Cherokee County Sheriff, & SLED.
Because the presence of civilians could spook Gunner and make him run away again, the Sheriff’s Office asked civilians to let the professionals conduct the search.
“We know there are folks wanting to help. We just ask if you drive up to Kings Mountain State Park to stay on the main roads and do not go walking through the woods as to not interrupt the K9 handlers training in the woods,” the York County Sheriff’s Office wrote.
The search amidst the vast forestland was long. It was already the morning after and they still hadn’t found Gunner.
Where could he be?
The search took around 25 hours. But at last, Gunner was found!
He was found by the latest group of investigators, who just started their search. They found Gunner near the Equine/Primitive Campground cold, wet, and thirsty. Otherwise, he was in good health.
The investigators secured Gunner to make sure that he wouldn’t run away again.
Sheriff Kevin Tolson of the York County Sheriff’s Office said that Gunner probably saw a deer and ran off toward it. Great was his want to go after the deer, and that’s why he was able to break free from his handler.
He also said Gunner probably chased that deer all night to explain his exhaustion. His handler broke into tears when they were finally reunited. Gunner even stood up to hug his handler upon his return.
His handler thanked everyone who helped him find his buddy and partner, his K9 dog.
“It’s a big relief,” 3-year-old Gunner’s handler said upon their reunion.
Gunner is an accomplished K9 dog with more than 35 successful mission rescues, including missing people cases.
To lose him would be devastating and a big loss for their local community in Virginia.