Florida Police Dog Finds Missing 3-Year-Old Boy in the Woods

After locating the toddler, the pup was "licking the little boy's face," his handler said

<p>DeLand Police Department/Facebook</p> K-9 Midnight (left); K-9 Midnight with the missing boy he located, the boy

DeLand Police Department/Facebook

K-9 Midnight (left); K-9 Midnight with the missing boy he located, the boy's family and three police officers (right)

A police dog in DeLand, Fla., located and safely returned a missing child to his family.

The child, a 3-year-old boy, was reported missing to the DeLand Police Department at approximately 11:30 a.m. on March 29, the department shared in a Facebook post.

After the toddler was reported missing, "all available assets and resources were deployed immediately as officers conducted a massive search, focusing on a wooded area behind the boy's home," the police department added.

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But it was one police dog who ultimately became the search's most valuable asset. "Using the boy's blanket, K-9 Midnight and his handler Corporal Clark searched through the woods," the DeLand Police Department shared.

During the search, the canine — who is trained to search for narcotics in addition to missing people — picked up the toddler's scent on a trail in a forested area and led authorities to him, per the social media post.

<p>DeLand Police Department/Facebook</p> K-9 Midnight

DeLand Police Department/Facebook

K-9 Midnight

"He was dragging me through the woods, like he was just he wasn't gonna stop," Clark told local NBC affiliate WESH.

The police dog and handler were on the ground for about 45 minutes, the corporal told the Florida outlet, adding that it "feels like hours and hours and hours when you're being dragged behind the dog through the woods."

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While Midnight tore through the "very thick" forested area without hesitation, Clark noted that he suffered some cuts and scrapes during the search.

"The dog was able to get to him much quicker than I was because I'm getting caught up in vines, and trees, and shrubbery and stuff like that," he told WESH.

Midnight located the boy, and by the time Clark caught up, the pup was "licking the little boy's face, and he's all over the little boy," the corporal said.

"And he's looking back at me like, 'Hey, I got it. Here it is,'" he added.

<p>DeLand Police Department/Facebook</p> DeLand police officers with K-9 Midnight and the missing 3-year-old boy the dog located in the woods

DeLand Police Department/Facebook

DeLand police officers with K-9 Midnight and the missing 3-year-old boy the dog located in the woods

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The toddler was returned to his family safe and unharmed, and police officers gifted him with a teddy bear, which he can be seen holding in a photo shared by the department.

In the same shot, the child hugs a family member—both of their faces blurred for privacy—and poses with three officers and his hero, Midnight.

Alongside the picture of the boy with his family and a headshot of the police dog, the department wrote, "Good work to all teams involved! This is the outcome we hope for in these situations, a safe return!"

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Midnight has been with the Florida police department since 2022, and when he isn't on duty, he is a sweet pup who loves to play ball, Clark told WESH.

But the dog is all business when the pair is on the clock.

"I'm the dumb end of the leash. So he does all the work," the handler said. "My job is just to read him, read his body language ... and understand what he's telling me because he can't talk."

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