Tootsie — Search and Rescue

Location: Billerica, Massachusetts

On 10/21/2016 the Burlington Police Department in Burlington Massachusetts requested the assistance of the Northeastern Massachusetts Law Enforcement Council’s (NEMLEC) Canine Unit. The request was to assist in the search for a missing person. The missing person was an adult female who had been last seen in her home 30 hours earlier. Efforts had been made to locate the woman before the request for service had been made but proved futile.

The home the woman was missing from was in a thickly settled neighborhood that bordered several acres of overgrown swamp. The perimeter of this area was searched by search teams and family members were worried that “she would never get through that.” Canine “Tootsie” who is trained to search for evidence and persons, was deployed off lead into this thick, overgrown acreage with handler and support officer. The weather was cold, in the 40’s, with rain. Approximately 30 minutes into the search Tootsie indicated in thick woods. Tootsie was sitting next to the missing female who was partially submerged in water. The woman was still alive but unresponsive with very poor vital signs. Due to the darkness and extremely thick vegetation it was difficult to give an exact location where the missing person was to extricate. Tootsie’s handler worked his way out of the swamp and Tootsie was used to track back to the missing person with EMS. The woman survived after a lengthy hospital stay. It was relayed that she was within hours of death when found.