Police and the public are searching for a police K-9 named Karson, who has been missing since Tuesday, Dec. 23.
Karson was being boarded at the Clinton Animal Care Center on West Locust Street while his handler, officer Jerry Popp was on vacation.
Popp says he was headed back to Ohio on Tuesday when the kennel and his police department both called him to say Karson escaped out the facility’s front door and ran off.
“He’s scared … I know he is,” said Popp during an interview Christmas Day.
Karson is a 3-year-old Malinois that has been working with Popp on the force for 14 months.
“Everybody loves him to death. He’s not just a dog, he’s a police officer, but he’s also our friend,” said Popp.
After Karson ran off, police posted on social media that he was loose, and started to search the greater Clinton County area.
“My son and I were driving down Center Road right at the intersection of Lewis and looked across in the field and there he was,” Popp said about the Karson sighting on Christmas eve day, “But by the time we got to behind the trees where we had parked our car and got out of the vehicle he had taken off.”
More than 48 hours after Karson got loose, search parties were out Christmas Day searching the woods and fields near the area where Karson was last spotted.
“This is just breaking his heart,” said Matt Killinen, lifelong friend of Officer Popp and a search volunteer. “And obviously all of his friends that are caring and out here on Christmas Day trying to find Karson because it means as much to him as it does his friends and the community, quite frankly.”
Officer Popp said Karson responds well to tennis balls, and he is friendly if you spot him and approach him, but was worried about him being out of his element.
“Now he’s in a big wide open area and the big wide world and he’s running scared,” said Popp.
Killinen said if the searchers didn’t bring Karson home for Christmas, they would continue to search night and day until they could bring him home.
“We just need a starting point, we need someone to dial 9-1-1 and say ‘Hey I think I see your dog’,” said Popp.
If you see a dog resembling Karson, Wilmington Police are asking you to call 9-1-1 and alert dispatchers to the dog’s location.