A new search is underway in Wise County for a sheriff's office K-9 who vanished in last weekend's storm.
He is a four-year-old Dutch Shepherd and a highly trained member of the Wise County Sheriff's Office.
He's been missing since Sunday morning's storm blew his kennel about 40 yards away.
Texas Sky Ranger flew the area between Farm-to-Market Road 1655 and U.S. Highway 380 between Decatur and Bridgeport as volunteers searched the fields and ponds Friday.
"Rayco!" volunteers yelled as they walked through thick brush. "Rayco!"
It was a first for a DFW search team: using trained dogs to find a police K-9.
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"My heart is very heavy," said Rayco's handler, Sgt. J.T. Manoushagian. "But I'm very hopeful. I'm not allowing myself to have an attitude other than that. Until we know otherwise, I'm going to believe that he's out there and he's OK."
Mutts & Mayhem Emergency Search & Rescue, based in DFW, helps find pets following car crashes and natural disasters.
"When an animal, specifically a dog, is frightened, their fight-or-flight system usually kicks in, and usually if they're injured they will run and they can run a good distance," said the group's president, Selena Schmidt. "It's the fear factor and the trauma of what happened, and the winds and the kennel, and it spooked him. Often when this happens, an animal won't even respond to its handler or guardian owner. They will act like they've never seen them before because they get into a survival mode."
There is concern someone may have picked up the dog or welcomed him into their home, not knowing he is a K-9 from the sheriff's office.
If you see Rayco, you are asked to call the sheriff's office or police and not approach him, because he may be injured.
Volunteers are needed for a search planned for Saturday from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.
"We're going to continue to do everything we can to bring him home safely," Manoushagian said.
- The command post location is 4446 FM 1655, Bridgeport, TX, 76426
- Check-in at the command tent area, where search maps, search assignments, command contact numbers and bottled water will be available.
- Initial search briefing will be at 8:30 a.m., but if you will be arriving later in the day you will be briefed individually.
- Bring a cell phone, sunscreen, bug spray and wear long pants and boots or tennis shoes. Water boots would be ideal as the search will include parts of a creek and poison ivy.
- Dress for cold weather. If you are miserable, you are not likely to remain focused, hindering your success.
- Search teams will be using the Zello app for command communications. It is available for free in the App Store for both iOS and Android. If you do not have data capability, organizers will communicate with you via cell phone.