Special reports: Drago the life-saver

By  Stephanie Springer  - bio | email

Dooly County, GA (WALB) -   A police K-9 is one of the most valuable tools in law enforcement.

They help officers locate drugs, find fugitives, detect explosives and most importantly, they can help save someone's life.

For years, K-9's have been an important part of the Dooly County Sheriff's office, but recently one of their K-9's is getting some extra praise.

His name is Drago, a 10 year old Belgium Mal, and he helped officers track a missing Kentucky man in Georgia and he did so just in the nick of time.

Meet Drago, Bleck, and Condor. They're not just dogs, they're officers,

"He's my partner," said Lt. Travis Pollock.

And they work hard every day alongside the officers in Dooly County to protect and save lives,

"I couldn't imagine working without him," Pollock said.

Recently Drago and Pollock were put to the test, on the night of January 10th, one of the coldest nights of the year,

"We weren't very hopeful when we got here," said Pollock.

Dean Herrell had been reported missing from Dawson Springs Kentucky, his wife hadn't seen him for days and she told authorities she was worried about his mental well-being,

"The gentleman remembers seeing big trucks and picnic tables," said Pollock.

After talking with her husband on the phone, she got clues he may be in Georgia, so Georgia State Patrol dispatchers immediately began working to pinpoint his location through his cell phone,

"They located the subject's phone at the 118 mile marker on interstate 75 in Dooly County," said Pollock.

Authorities also found his truck, almost 500 miles away from home. "It had rained over his scent, the traffic that comes through here," said the deputy.

The icy weather conditions didn't look good for tracking, but Drago immediately picked up a scent, and never got confused on his track.

He began tracking from one side of the rest area to the other, leading deputies into a wooded area.

"It was amazing how good he did on his track," said Pollock.

And deep in the woods, Drago led officers to the man they were searching for. He was unresponsive, and couldn't move his arms or feet.

Herell was propped up against a tree, in 18 degree weather, and he was soaking wet from all the rain.

"He pretty much was frozen to death when we found him," said Pollock. "Another hour, and I don't think he would have made it."

It took six deputies to carry the lifeless man out of the woods, and then he began having seizures, but officers were able to get him medical help--  just in the nick of time.

But he did make it, thanks to Drago, who is no doubt a hero.

Despite the challenges he encountered that night, "It's a miracle and I cant really explain why it happened like it did," said Pollock.

Dean Herrell agrees. He says he doesn't remember anything after he left Kentucky, but he's thankful he got another chance at life.

"Saving someone's life is more amazing any day than finding a load of dope, or seizing us currency. Saving someone's life is what its all about," said Pollock. "I plan on having him as long as possible and maybe retiring him then."

Next year Drago turns 11, but it doesn't look like he plans on slowing down anytime soon.

Herrell says the reason he ended up in Georgia was because he was addicted to Bath Salts, a synthetic form of Cocaine. He was disoriented, paranoid and delusional.

He says he doesn't remember anything about his drive from Kentucky to Georgia, but he was on a mission to end his life, and he says thanks to Drago he was given a second chance at life.

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