Hancock County

Radar's handler: Bloodhound was on his first call before Hancock County crash

HANCOCK COUNTY -- The first thought to cross Darryl Russell's mind after his vehicle was blind sided last month was his partner, K-9 deputy Radar, who he would not see again for 17 days.

Russell said some passersby pulled him from his pickup after it was "T-boned" Sept. 22 while crossing an intersection just off Mississippi 43 near Picayune.

"I asked where my dog was because I knew he was in the back of the truck when this had happened, and I couldn't see the kennel anymore,'" he said that afternoon. "They told me I just needed to sit down and deal with my injuries first."

Russell, a sheriff's narcotics agent since 2012, and Radar had traveled to Pearl River County to assist in the search of a missing teenager when his pickup was hit.

It was Radar's first real call to service.

Pearl River County Sheriff David Allison said the missing teen was found safe shortly before the accident occurred,

After the crash, the bloodhound was nowhere to be found.

The kennel had been thrown from the bed of the truck and broken open upon hitting the ground. Radar, likely scared from the incident, had run away.

At that point, the search shifted to finding a K-9 the sheriff's deputies consider almost an equal.

The Hancock County Sheriff's Office sent dozens of deputies to the area that evening and began combing the area for Radar.

Narcotics Task Force Cmdr. Jeremy Skinner contacted every local media outlet to get word out about the missing dog and said deputies would not stop searching until they found him.

Russell, who wanted to take part in the search, was confined to a hospital bed with moderate injuries. Even though he was released from the hospital after one night, doctors placed Russell on restricted duty, he said.

"He lived with me since he was just six weeks old," Russell said about his partner. "He just turned 1 in July."

A local resident, who lived not far from where the wreck occurred, spotted Radar on his property Oct. 5 and immediately called the sheriff's office.

Russell gave deputies some of his own clothing as well as the igloo Radar sleeps in to place in that area, hoping Radar would pick up on the familiar scent and return.

Deputies also set up several hog traps with food inside, as well as game cameras to capture any footage of Radar going near the traps.

The first trap they acquired was too small, and when deputies reviewed the camera footage, they saw Radar stretch his head into the trap, eat the food and back out without being captured, Russell said.

"The gate stayed on his back the whole time, and he just reversed back out once he finished eating," he said. "So he outsmarted the trap."

Russell said deputies didn't see him for a day or two until people started phoning in with more sightings of the dog.

Radar was eventually found and captured Oct. 7 about a block away from where the wreck occurred on Walkiah Bluff and Burnt Bridge Roads.

Russell was immediately reunited with his partner that day at a veterinarian's office.

Both the narcotics agent and his K-9 partner seem to be making full recoveries.

Russell has gone through some surgeries and is doing fine.

Radar is eating a lot and has already gained seven pounds since Wednesday, Russell said.

"He probably didn't eat for most of those 17 days he was out there," he said.

Radar's nose also seems to be working, which Russell said is a very good sign that the dog may be able to return to service at some point.

The Pearl River Sheriff's Office and the Mississippi Blood Trailing Network also helped in the search.

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