O'FALLON, MISSOURI - They're the newest team on the force and already a St. Charles County police officer and her K-9 partner are receiving high praise for helping to find a missing teenager with special needs. The pair solved the case on their first day on the job together.
The call came out Sunday evening after a teen with autism went missing from a family member's O’Fallon, Missouri apartment. With a busy outer road and a thundering Interstate 70 just steps away, time was critical.
O’Fallon police called for help and Officer Courtney Spiess and her Hanoverian Hound partner, Tank, answered. It was their first assignment, coming just one day after completing training.
“We were gone for five weeks and got back around 5:00 on Saturday,” said Spiess.
The partners are specially trained to find narcotics, suspects and missing people. And they were up to the task Sunday evening.
“He absolutely loves going to work. As soon as I put his harness on him he knows we're going to be tracking a person and you can see his face change. He's ready to go,” said Spiess.
In less than five minutes, Tank and Spiess found the teen and returned him safely to his family.
“It's so rewarding and (Tank) was so happy to find him and of course I was ecstatic.”
Five on Your Side wanted to show off Tank's skills, so we asked a photographer to hide and let Tank track him down. The hound picked up the photographer’s scent from a jacket and was immediately off to work. Within moments Tank was on the trail and he found our photographer's hiding spot hundreds of yards away with no trouble at all.
Let this be a message to drug runners and the families of missing people alike: Tank and Officer Spiess are on the job.
“He's very special, a very special dog,” said Spiess.
Tank is one of only about 60 Hanoverian Hounds in the country working as police dogs.
Spiess says working with a K-9 has been her dream since she was nine years-old.