The Washington Post

Search underway for missing rescue dog Vito

Vito, a German shepherd rescue dog, went missing in Bowie on Thursday. (Handout photo)

Let’s find him.

Vito disappeared on Thursday while practicing search and rescues in Bowie, near Whitemarsh Park. Something spooked him, and Vito, a very fast runner, bolted. He was not wearing tags.

“He moved up a hill and was over the hill and was just gone,” said his owner and handler, Sonja Heritage, a professional dog trainer and member of the famed Fairfax County Urban Search and Rescue Team. “I fully expected him to circle back once he had his wits about him again. He didn’t. He was just gone.”

The Fairfax dog squad works locally and deploys to natural disasters around the world. The dogs search the rubble of buildings and clamber through destroyed homes, sniffing out survivors of hurricanes, earthquakes and floods. They are heroes on four legs.

Vito is just nearing the end of a demanding training regimen before receiving his full certification to work in disaster zones. Heritage and other local rescue-dog trainers are crushed that he’s gone.

Search and rescue teams and their dogs have been searching, along with fire department members, friends and family, but Vito hasn’t turned up.

“Hopefully someone is taking care of him and just doesn’t know he’s missing,” Heritage said. “The idea of that makes us very hopeful. We want to be reunited with him. We are dying.”

Vito barks for toys relentlessly, based on his training — finding someone means he gets to play. Heritage wants people to know that if they have found a lost German shepherd that looks like Vito and barks his head off when he spots a toy, that’s probably him.

If you have seen Vito or know where he might be, please call Heritage immediately at 301-655-7643.

Vito is trained to help people. Now it’s our turn to help him.

Michael Rosenwald is a reporter on the Post's local enterprise team. He writes about the intersection of technology, business and culture.


Success! Check your inbox for details. You might also like:

Please enter a valid email address

See all newsletters

Show Comments
Most Read


Success! Check your inbox for details.

See all newsletters

Your Three. Videos curated for you.
Play Videos
What can babies teach students?
Unconventional warfare with a side of ale
A veteran finds healing on a dog sled
Play Videos
A fighter pilot helmet with 360 degrees of sky
Is fencing the answer to brain health?
Scenes from Brazil's Carajás Railway
Play Videos
How a hacker group came to Washington
The woman behind the Nats’ presidents ‘Star Wars’ makeover
How hackers can control your car from miles away
Play Videos
Philadelphia's real signature sandwich
Full disclosure: 3 bedrooms, 2 baths, 1 ghoul
Europe's migrant crisis, explained