A missing and endangered 6-year-old girl hugged Rutherford County Sheriff’s bloodhound Fred after he rescued her Friday in DeKalb County, said Fred’s handler, K9 Deputy Richard Tidwell.
“He licked her face and she gave him a big hug,” Tidwell said of the encounter of Fred and Kinzleigh Reeder.
DeKalb County Sheriff Patrick Ray said in a statement Fred located Kinzleigh and her father, Nicholas Reeder, who was charged with child abuse or neglect of his daughter.
Ray’s department had been searching for the father and daughter since the father allegedly abducted her May 26. Deputies believed the father and daughter were camping in the Pea Ridge community. Fred responded to help.
Rutherford County Sheriff’s Sgt. James Holloway said he, Cpl. Jake Beu and Deputy Jonathan Backus assisted in the search.
Capt. John Ingle of Rutherford County Fire & Rescue, who was on the scene with the department’s drone team and StormPoint drones, told Holloway DeKalb County deputies believed the father and daughter were behind a home. Ingle requested Fred to help the search.
Ingle updated them about the search. Tidwell obtained an item belonging to the father and allowed Fred to smell it. They traveled to the home and released Fred who followed a foot path from the home to a burn pile, a truck and an outbuilding. He sniffed the door and door knob, then sat down indicating he found the father.
Holloway said deputies forced open the door and found it was reinforced from the inside.
“We made entry into the building and discovered the suspect and child in the back of the shed behind blankets that were hanging from a makeshift clothesline,” Holloway said.
The father was taken into custody and Kinzleigh was safely turned over to DeKalb County deputies.
Sheriff Ray thanked the Rutherford County Sheriff’s Office, Rutherford County Fire & Rescue, StormPoint drones, Tennessee Highway Patrol, Smithville-DeKalb County Rescue Squad, DeKalb EMS, the FBI and Tennessee Bureau of Investigation for all their assistance in the search.
Holloway said this is another example of agencies from Rutherford County working together to achieve a common goal.
“Everyone was prepared to stay on scene until the little girl was safely located and out of harm’s way,” Holloway said. “It is an honor to serve alongside some of the most dedicated and highly trained first responders in the country.”
Tidwell said Fred gets a reward of chicken to feast on when he makes a successful find. This time he received an extra treat of pizza crusts.
“I praised him and loved on him,” Tidwell said. “I pulled the chicken reward out of my pocket. He ate the chicken and wanted to meet other people as if to say, ‘Look what I’ve done.’”