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Maverick the police dog finds missing woman who had fallen in Selden woods

Suffolk County Police Officer Thomas Teufel, left, watches

Suffolk County Police Officer Thomas Teufel, left, watches as his dog, Maverick, climbs an obstacle at the K9 training facility in Yaphank in August 2016. Credit: James Carbone

Officer Thomas Teufel’s four-legged partner sniffed out the missing woman in the Selden woods Monday afternoon within minutes.

Teufel, a 25-year veteran with the Suffolk County police, and his colleague in the Canine Unit, Maverick, a 5-year-old German shepherd, took little time to find the 68-year-old woman who had gone missing from a senior citizen’s complex and was last seen on Sunday night.

“Within 10 minutes Maverick pulled me over,” Teufel said Monday night. “He smelled her and we found her laying on the ground in the woods. She said she was laying there all night. … She was awake and alert. She was a little disorientated. She fell down and was unable to get up,” Teufel said.

Police said the woman, who was not identified, was treated for dehydration. She was reported missing from the St. Joseph’s Village Senior Citizens complex by her daughter around 1:30 p.m. Monday, police said. The woman’s caretaker noticed she was not at the complex, but her cellphone, wallet and purse were, police said. The missing woman was found shortly before 5:30 p.m.

Teufel said he was extra proud of Maverick considering all the training he has gone through. That training includes a 16-week course in patrolling. A 10-week course in specialty training for areas such as narcotics, explosives and cadavers for dogs in the department’s Canine Unit, Teufel said. Maverick is trained in explosives. And an additional six to eight hours of training each week, Teufel said.

“He’s a great partner,” Teufel said of Maverick. “I’ll make sure he gets a good treat tonight.” There are 22 dogs in Suffolk police’s Canine Unit, Teufel said.

Teufel and Maverick not only work together, they live together, like all canine officers do with their partners.

The experience helps cement the human-animal bond, which leads to success, Teufel said.

Maverick helped police in June find an 82-year-old man with dementia in Remsenburg who had been missing in the scorching summer heat for more than eight hours.

Southampton Town police asked for the help from Suffolk’s Canine Unit. Maverick was exhausted after a 90-minute search that day, but, he still managed to do his job, Teufel said.

“Maverick was able to find him and save his life,” he said. “That was one of my proudest moments.”

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