Ki, a German Shepherd police dog with the Ontario Provincial Police joined the OPP Canine unit in 2001, along with partner Provincial Constable Shawn Campbell. They were posted to Bracebridge, Ontario and responded to hundreds of calls, including many that resulted in successful arrests and rescues. In one particular instance, Ki’s keen nose helped save a man’s life.
In January 2007, Constable Campbell and Ki were called to the Haliburton Highlands to track a man who became separated from a group looking at property in a heavily wooded area. The man, aged 54, was lightly dressed. A snowstorm was forecasted for the area that night.
Realizing that he was lost, the man made a cellular call to police at 4:00 p.m., and they directed him to stay where he was while they sent out a rescue team. Because of the cold temperatures and seclusion in the wooded area, the man began to experience ‘bush fever’. Instead of staying put as the police directed he started to run, trying to find his own way out of the woods. A call was placed to his wife, where he indicated that he was on the move. Soon after, the man’s cell phone died, and no further contact was made.
Officer Campbell and Ki arrived at the location of the cell call, and began to track the man, following his footprints in the snow. They quickly realized the footprints were sporadic and very tough to track, so responding officers had to rely on Ki’s ability to follow the man’s path, which crossed through dense bush, swamp and marsh areas, and even a low angle 30 metre wide waterfall.
They tracked the man for over six hours and 10 kilometres, an extreme feat of endurance for any animal, let alone an eight-year old dog. Though they followed him for 10 kilometres, the missing man only covered approximately four kilometres of distance as he became disoriented and hypothermia set in.
The OPP, led by Ki, located the man hours later where he had broken through an ice-covered swamp. Constable Campbell directed officers to the location via GPS and the missing man was rescued and treated for hypothermia. The man was saved thanks to the sharp tracking abilities of Ki. Without Ki, the man’s life could have been put in very serious danger due to prolonged exposure to the elements.