CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Linsey Ward was busy taking care of chores at home when she discovered that her toddler suddenly disappeared.
“Two minutes of walking away and not paying attention, and she was gone,” Ward said as she stood outside her home on Bethel Road in west Charlotte Friday morning.
Her 2-year-old daughter, Madison, wandered away and, before she knew it, was out of sight.
“You know you think, ‘Oh well, they're going to be outside and I'm going to be able to find them,’ and we walked up and down the neighborhood screaming for her and heard nothing, so we called the police,” Ward said.
“We had a missing 2-year-old, so we responded,” said Capt. Tanya Arrington, who supervises Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department’s Westover Division.
Arrington called in all available officers to help in the search, and they got a break when a neighbor’s surveillance camera showed the little girl following a dog down the sidewalk.
The officers needed help so they called in an expert -- Hasso, the department’s newest tracking dog and his handler, Officer Steve Altmann.
“So we got out here, and spoke with the parents,” Altmann said.
He asked Madison’s parents for some of her clothes and after Hasso got a good sniff, he took off.
“He'd tracked across the yard and made this first cut in behind a house,” Altmann said.
The two of them followed Hasso’s nose down a hill, into a backyard and to a chain-link fence, where they found a scared and tearful little girl.
“She was on the other side of the fence, and she had gotten her foot caught in the chain link. She couldn't get out, so she was sitting there when we got to her,” Altman said. “God made an amazing animal right here (Hasso), otherwise we wouldn't have found her. I don't know if anyone would've ever come back here.”
Moments later, they were on their way back to Madison’s parents with one happy little girl.
“Luckily nothing happened, and it was just an hour. The scariest hour of my life,” Ward said.
The officers felt pretty good too.
“Oh it's huge. Definitely God was with us today,” Altmann said.
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