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Chautauqua County Sheriff deputy and K-9 find missing 6-year-old

The child went wandered off from her grandparents' home on Wednesday night.

CHAUTAUQUA COUNTY, N.Y. — As it got dark Wednesday night, a 6-year-old girl in Chautauqua County wandered away from her grandparents' home. 

She walked about a half mile from there with no shoes on in the dark and was gone for about three hours. Thankfully, the Chautauqua County Sheriff's Office was able to find her in the woods near Findley Lake. 

Deputy Chad Wright and K-9 Link were called in to find that missing 6-year-old. The two have been working together since 2017. Link has found nearly 40 criminals and missing people ever since.

Wright says every time the pair search for someone, including that child, they're working against time and odor contamination. 

As 8-year-old Link tried to follow the girl's scent in the woods, he had to try and avoid the smell of more than 20 searchers looking for her as well. 

About an hour and a half later, Link finally gave Wright a signal. 

"He continued to air scent with his head up," Wright said. "I called out as loud as I could to her, called her name out, and I heard a faint response."

A father himself, Wright became overcome with new emotions. 

"It was relief. It was pretty overwhelming," Wright said. "If there's a better feeling that you can feel in this line of work in this profession, I guess I've never felt it."

The girl did have a few cuts and was treated by first responders but he says she is now safe and back with her family. 

Wright and Link have worked together for about six years now. Link was born in the Netherlands, and Wright gives him all his commands in Dutch. 

They started as partners in crime.

"Being a rural agency, a lot of times he's my only backup. I've been in fights before where he's the only thing that's been there for me," Wright said. 

Now they're friends for life. Pretty soon, Link won't be searching for missing people or criminals anymore. 

"Based on the health issues, his age, and the sheer amount of miles, I'm probably going to slow down and look toward retiring him so he can have some days of ease and comfort. I think he's earned it," Wright said. 

Wright says Link will retire within the next year or so.

Officers get two options: to either take the dog home or put them up for adoption. In this case, Wright says he will definitely be taking Link home. 

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