WEST VALLEY, N.Y. — An Erie County Sheriff's deputy is scouring the woods in the Southern Tier, trying to find his missing dog that once served as a K-9 service animal.
That dog, named Haso, was last seen in an area south of Ashford Hollow Road in the West Valley area and may be in the woods between Routes 219 and 240.
Deputy Richard Lundberg described Haso this way: "He's a very likeable, happy, social dog."
Lundberg was Haso's patrol partner and now owner. He says the 63-pound, 4-year-old, black-and-sable-colored German Shepherd was last seen Monday evening near Ashford Hollow Road.
Lundberg told 2 On Your Side: "My concern is that someone might have him and not know who he is. I'm also worried that this is a big hunting community. I hope that someone didn't mistake him for a coyote."
Pushing those fears aside, Lundberg and friends, community members, and other police agencies have been searching for Haso around West Valley.
They even had help with a fellow officer using a drone, but so far, nothing, and Lundberg says it hurts.
"You get back from a bad call. You see something terrible. And you come back to your car, and your dog is always happy to see you, and you know that was huge. And he's been with me every single day," Lundberg said.
Besides drug detection skills, this retired working dog was also a specialized tracking canine.
"In one way or another, he's served every police department, whether it's helping on a traffic stop or doing a track or finding someone. He's saved lives. Yeah, at minimum, Haso has eight saves under his belt," Lundberg said.
That includes an autistic woman in Williamsville who nearly drowned in a creek and an elderly man with dementia in Clarence.
Lundberg points out Haso's focused snout.
"He could ignore other human scents and just focus on a target scent, and so I gave him that man's pajamas and sent him on the trial. And he followed him. He found the guy way back in the woods on his back," Lundberg said.
If you see or have seen Haso, please call the Erie County Sheriff's non-emergency dispatch office at 716-858-2903. You can also contact New York State Police or the Cattaraugus County Sheriff's Office.
If you spot Haso, use caution remember he is a retired K-9.
Deputy Lundberg sums it up this way for his quest to find Haso: "These dogs, they just leave an indelible impression on your heart."