EGG HARBOR TWP.- After days of searching, the missing Sheriff's Department K-9 has been found. While he is a little banged up, authorities say Dillinger should recover nicely and is anxious to get back to work.
Slightly dehydrated and suffering a broken leg, two year-old Dillinger is finally back were he belongs, with his handler. "Phenomenal, phenomenal, I'm elated," said K-9 Officer Ron DeMoulin, "he had a little injury, but she's safe now, he's home and he's just as happy as I am."
It's been four days of intense searching for the Belgian Malinios, who got loose from his kennel outside of his DeMoulin's home over the weekend. "It was just such a traumatizing thing," DeMoulin said, "you don't know which way to go, but we knew we had to find him."
Officials believe Dillinger was spooked by a severe thunderstorm early Sunday morning and think he escaped from his kennel by scaling a five-foot fence and then squeezing through a six-inch gap between that fence and the roof.
"I saw it on the news and I thought, aww. You know, I felt so bad for the dog and the owner." So, when Laura Marcy spotted a dog that looked like Dillinger run into the woods this morning, she called police right away to report it. "He looked like he was in pain," she said, "he was moving kinda quickly."
After receiving another call about spotting the dog, authorities finally saw him run across Delilah Road and into an office park, where DeMoulin finally caught up to his missing partner. "I called his name the first time and he looked over his shoulder and kept moving slowly," said DeMoulin, "I called him again. He stopped and completely turned around and faced me. On my third call, I got down on my knees and opened my arms and said 'Dillinger,' and he just ran to me and jumped in my arms. I got pretty misty-eyed at that point."
But, DeMoulin is all smiles now, along with the rest of the Sheriff's Department and everyone else who joined in on the search. "We got a big response for mutual aid from all the police departments," said Undersheriff Ted Kammer, "we had wives out there, my wife was out there looking for Dillinger because everybody wanted to be able to find him, they wanted him to get back home."
"Everybody's just engraved in my heart," said DeMoulin, "the effort was truly off the radar."
DeMoulin says having his partner back is more than just finding a dog, it's like being reunited with family. "He was looking for me just as hard as I was looking for him, and he knew dad wasn't gonna give up," he said, "I knew that he was a fighter and he'd be found safe."
And now that he has been found safe, it's nothing but love for Dillinger. "He's gonna get a "atta boy" all night long," said DeMoulin laughing, "as long as he can stand it, I'm gonna give it to him."
Dillinger will be taking it easy while he recovers, but his handler says he will be back to work as soon as the vet gives the OK, and that they're working on fixing the kennel so Dillinger can't get out again.