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Retired K9 brought back into action, sniffs out pet tortoise

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WEST VALLEY CITY, Utah — It’s the story of the tortoise and the K9? A retired K9 jumps back into action for an unusual request, to sniff out a missing pet tortoise.

Copper the bloodhound was enjoying his first year of retirement, after 9-years of working for the West Valley City Police Department, but now he can add another successful search to his long list of finds.

“His nose has led us to a lot of bad guys,” said Sergeant Shane Matheson, Copper’s handler and now owner.

Throughout his years on the police force, Copper tracked down suspects and even missing children… but never missing pets.

“I said, ‘I know it’s far-fetched and I know it’s kind of a crazy idea,’” said Ashely Johnson, Sgt. Matheson’s neighbor who asked him to help her find her pet, Harold.

“’I’m kind of desperate and at the end of line and we’re devastated.’”

But when Sgt. Matheson found out what kind of pet Harold is…

“I thought, ‘How far could a tortoise really go?’ But apparently they’re a lot more mobile than I thought,” Sgt. Matheson said.

Harold was out grazing in the grass when he disappeared, Ashley couldn’t find her tortoise anywhere.

“We looked until 1:30 in the morning,” Ashely said. “I got up the very next morning at the crack of dawn and I looked for hours and hours.”

Days later there was still no sign of Harold. Ashley was going out of town and worried she’d never see Harold again.

Then she remembered, just days before, she found a stray bloodhound that she reunited with its owner. That dog happened to be Copper and that’s when Ashley found out about his history.

“He’s a retired police dog and that he had a really long and successful career and he’s very smart,” Ashley said.

Something she saw firsthand when copper picked up the scent from Harold’s hut.

“He seemed really excited to be able to go back to work,” Sgt. Matheson said, but he was also skeptical about the search.

“I thought no, there’s no way it’s been a couple days.”

But within seconds Copper caught the scent.

“Copper immediately, after smelling the hut, went straight to the grass where I put her down and followed the scent,” Ashley said.

Copper kept going back to the retaining wall just outside the neighbor’s yard. That’s where Harold was hidden in the rocks.

“I was ecstatic! I started screaming and jumping up and down,” Ashley said.

A happy ending to the unlikely story of the tortoise and the K9.

“Didn’t really seem like he skipped a beat and he seemed really excited to get out and do something besides sit around the house,” Sgt. Matheson said.

Copper is now back to enjoying retirement but this last one was his most unusual find.

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