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Galax’s police dog plays big role in rescuing lost hikers

Published: Apr. 5, 2021 at 9:26 PM EDT
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GALAX, Va. (WDBJ) - The City of Galax’s police dog, Rocko, played a big role in helping to rescue the three hikers who got lost in the Iron Ridge mines one week ago.

Last March, the city raised nearly $20,000 to help buy him after Ayo was forced into early retirement because of cancer.

“Had it not been for the public’s help, I don’t know that we would have been able to get Rocko as quickly as we did,” Rocko’s handler Sgt. Chris Hines said.

Hines met Rocko in June and started an eight-week training before he officially joined the force. Now, he’s by Hines’ side every single day - waiting for his moment to shine.

“It really depends on what the officers need,” Hines said. Whether it’s they want me to run a vehicle to check for narcotics or whether they need me to come out and track a suspect that has ran, or whether it’s somebody that’s lost.”

Rocko’s skills came in handy last week, when three hikers went missing—he traced the scent on one girl’s shoe, leading first responders right to them.

“Rocko took us right to the edge of the mines and went in,” Hines said. “These dogs are amazing. It cuts our response time astronomically. We can put him on a track and his nose is so much better than ours.”

Rocko helped to shave off what could have led to hours or days to find the women.

“Time is of the essence because when they’re in those mines it’s limited oxygen,” Hines said. “They were lucky enough to get to a ventilation shaft where they actually had cell phone signal and some oxygen.”

Hines said he’s grateful to the community who came through in a time of need, so Rocko can help when they need him.

“He’s their dog, I’m just lucky enough to be on the other end of the leash to be able to handle him,” he said.

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