Frantic search underway after retired hero K-9 goes missing

"This isn't how his chapter is supposed to close," said Deputy Lundberg, K-9 Haso's owner

By Sandra Tan
The Buffalo News, N.Y.

ERIE COUNTY, N.Y. — Neighbors, family members and strangers have embarked on a search for Haso, a retired K-9 dog who is credited with saving many lives during his four-year career as an active duty member of the Erie County Sheriff's Office.

Haso, an 8-year-old German shepherd, has been missing since Monday night. His owner, Deputy Richard Lundberg, became anxious about Haso's fate when the dog didn't return to the house by Tuesday morning.

"My two chief concerns are that he's stuck somewhere or deceased, or someone has him and doesn't know who he is and what he is," Lundberg said.

The problem with finding Haso is that Lundberg lives in Cattaraugus County, with hundreds of acres of woods behind him. Searchers on ATVs might find him, but a search on foot would be tough.

The Buffalo News wrote about Haso in January 2020 when the dog was among the K-9s retired when marijuana was legalized in New York State, compromising their illegal drug-detection training.

Haso played a key role in the arrest of a city parking meter mechanic and a substitute teacher. After deputies stopped the city employee's vehicle on the Scajaquada Expressway, the K-9 discovered a bag of cocaine hidden in a side air vent on the dashboard.

The Sheriff's Office ultimately seized a half kilo of cocaine, 15 grams of fentanyl and $7,500 in cash from the couple's car.

Lundberg also recounted Haso's gifts as a tracker. The K-9 sniffed the pajamas of an elderly Clarence man with dementia who had wandered away during the night. Haso traced the scent into the woods and found him.

"Haso has done a lot of good in his life, and he doesn't even know how good he is," Lundberg said. "There's a minimum of eight people who wouldn't be alive today if it weren't for him."

Lundberg lives near the intersection of Stady Road and Route 240 in the Town of Ashford. He had let Haso out of his kennel around 7:45 p.m. Monday and went into his garage for four minutes. When Lundberg returned, Haso was gone.

Normally, Haso would be nearby, though on a few occasions, he's taken off for a neighbor's yard in search of a chipmunk. Haso has always turned up in the garage no later than the next morning, waiting for breakfast.

Lundberg used his security cameras to learn that something attracted the dog's attention, causing him to take off.

Lundberg and friends with ATVs have been roaming the woods, with Lundberg leaving pieces of clothes and bedding with his scent on it to give Haso a scent trail home. Trail cameras have even been mounted.

As of Thursday afternoon, Haso was still missing. But a professional volunteer dog search group, called " Sherlock Bones," is assisting with the search and may have found fresh tracks that belong to the dog, Lundberg said. They are setting up cameras in the area they think he's hanging out in with some food, he said.

Haso is microchipped, but was not wearing his collar because Lundberg takes off Haso's collar when he is in his kennel so it doesn't accidentally get caught.

Though Haso has been trained as a K-9, he's now a retired family dog who is social and friendly, Lundberg said. He would likely jump into the car of anyone who opens the door, or walk into someone's house.

The Erie County Sheriff's Office posted information about the missing K-9 on social media Wednesday. Anyone with information on Haso's whereabouts is asked to call (716) 858-2903.

Lundberg is hoping Haso is still alive.

"This isn't how his chapter is supposed to close," he said.

(c)2022 The Buffalo News (Buffalo, N.Y.)

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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