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Video: Fla. sheriff’s office K-9 finds missing child

Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office K-9 Mary Lu tracked the child’s scent to a locked park bathroom, where she was found safe

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“Good girl,” Ernstes told Mary Lu. “What a good puppy, yes ma’am.”

Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office via Facebook

By Irene Wright
The Charlotte Observer

HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. — When a child goes missing, time is of the essence to find them.

That’s why when an 11-year-old girl disappeared from her Florida home on Jan. 26, the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office called in a born searcher — K-9 Mary Lu.

Mary Lu, along with her deputy handler Sarah Ernstes, arrived at the Wimauma home just before 8 p.m. and quickly found the missing child’s scent, the sheriff’s office said in a Jan. 28 Facebook post.

“They quickly jumped into action, tracking the child to a neighbor’s house, where they learned the residents had given her a ride to a nearby apartment complex,” the sheriff’s office said.

Mary Lu and Ernstes drove to the complex, then started searching the surrounding area, deputies said.

In a video shared by the sheriff’s office, Ernstes and Mary Lu reach a nearby park, and Mary Lu is let loose as Ernstes tells her to “get to work.”

Mary Lu searches the property before walking up to the park’s public bathrooms, the video shows.

“She does have happy tail over here at these bathrooms, which she only does when she’s close to somebody,” Ernstes says in the video.

The bathroom door was locked, the sheriff’s office said, but deputies started identifying themselves and learned the missing 11-year-old was inside.

The sheriff’s office said deputies were “able to successfully talk her into unlocking the door, where she was found safe and without injury.”

As the child stepped out of the bathroom, Ernstes asked if Mary Lu could say hello as a reward for her hard work, the video showed.

“Good girl,” Ernstes told Mary Lu. “What a good puppy, yes ma’am.”

The sheriff’s office said the missing child was safely reunited with her family.

Wimauma is about 30 miles southeast of Tampa.

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