UNION CITY, Ind. — Two central Indiana police dogs are being credited for helping save the life of an 84-year-old man who had a statewide Silver Alert issued for him on Christmas Day.
Allen Jefferis, 84, of Union City, was reported missing by family on Christmas Eve. His family told police he was last seen Friday evening. That night and into Christmas morning, first responders and hundreds of volunteers from across the area searched for Jefferis but they were unable to find him, according to the Boone County Sheriff's Office (BCSO).
At around 9:30 a.m. Saturday, the BCSO was asked if Sgt. Ryan Musgrave and his bloodhound, Chase, could come help.
Before he left for Randolph County, Musgrave called another bloodhound handler, Deputy Neal Hoard with the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office, and asked him if he and his bloodhound, Maudie would help, too.
The duo hadn't started opening presents yet and agreed to help.
"If there's somebody to track that we need to track, then we got to go. We don't say. 'Hey, okay, today is a day that people can't get lost on,'" Hoard said.
At around noon, the team arrived and the bloodhounds quickly picked up on Jefferis' scent.
"We made the phone call and there was no ifs, and, or buts about it. They just came out and began their tracking. And they were right on target," Union City Chief of Police Cobie Wells said.
They tracked his scent north to an old barn not far from his home.
"We get going, and just beyond the barn some searchers had walked on past there because we went there and located the man," Hoard said.
A local resident found Jefferis alive, entangled in a fence, trapped there for more than 10 hours. He was in a wooded area near a creek. He was "clothed, wet and, most importantly, alive," the BCSO said in a news release.
"He [the man who found Jefferis] and his wife had prayed that he be found and said God told him to look on the map. They looked on a map and found that spot and they went directly to that spot and there they located Mr. Jeffries along with the bloodhounds," Wells said.
"It doesn't get any better than making sure somebody comes home," Hoard said.
Medics took Jefferis to a nearby medical facility for treatment. On Monday, a family member told 13News that Jefferis is stable and improving at the hospital. He's being treated for rhabdomyolysis and dehydration. His only injuries were scratches.
Boone County Sheriff Mike Nielsen said cases like this are precisely why the sheriff's office began the K-9 bloodhound program in 2018, "to save lives."
"I’m so happy that Mr. Jeffries was found alive and well, God surely blessed this Christmas miracle. We wish him the best of luck on his recovery and wish him a very Happy New Year because we know his Christmas wish was answered," said Nielsen.
As for the pups, they returned home with their handlers and without a doubt received many well-deserved pets and treats.
When Maudie got home, she opened her Christmas present— a deer antler covered with peanut butter.