ALBEMARLE — K9 Luka, a trained police dog with the Stanly County Sheriff’s Office, is back with his department after briefly going missing over the weekend.
On Friday night, the German Shepherd was deployed to catch a suspect running away from authorities when a vehicle chase in Albemarle became a foot chase through the woods next to Cherokee Road.
Germarcus Rashad Sellers, 23, of Albemarle, was eventually caught and charged with assault with a deadly weapon and resisting, delaying or obstructing an officer. However, K9 Luka did not initially come back to Deputy Francisco Porras and was missing throughout the rest of the night.
“Due to reasons unknown, K9 Luka did not return to the handler,” the Stanly County Sheriff’s Office posted on its Facebook page. “There are numerous electric fences in the area that may have injured the K9 causing him to run away. An exhaustive search of the area was conducted by several agencies, however, K9 Luka has not been located.”
An update was posted online by the department on Saturday morning confirming that the dog had been found following the overnight search: “K9 Luka was located by his handler early this morning. He is safe and doing well. Thank you all for your shares and prayers.”
Lt. George Miller of the Stanly County Sheriff’s Office told SCJ that the prolonged disappearance of a police dog during a chase is a rare occurrence, but, thankfully, K9 Luka was still stationed in the same area where the police chase had occurred the night before.
The reason for why the dog didn’t return to his handler on Friday night remains unclear.
“This is the first time I’ve known this to occur here…it was unique to say the least,” Miller said. “The dog was located by the handler because he was just remaining in the area. It’s something called scent saturation, where the dog was able to smell him and reapproach; he came out of a field and walked back up to his car.”
Friday night’s arrest of Sellers isn’t the first time the Albemarle resident has been charged with felonies locally.
Last August, he was charged with trafficking in cocaine; possession with the intent to manufacture, sell or deliver heroin; possession with the intent to manufacture, sell or deliver cocaine; felony possession of marijuana; possession of drug paraphernalia; conspiracy to sell and deliver schedule II; and conspiracy to sell and deliver heroin.
In March of 2019, Sellars was charged by the Rowan County Sheriff’s Office with fleeing to elude arrest after speeding away from a traffic stop, as well as several motor vehicle violations.