Meet Banshee, the Merced County K-9 who found a missing teen

MERCED COUNTY, Calif. (KFSN) -- Deputy Dustin Witt geared up for work with his K-9 partner, Banshee, on Thursday morning, just hours after the pair found a missing girl in an orchard near Livingston.

The 4-year-old bloodhound followed a scent collected in the teen's room more than a mile away to a large stack of sweet potato boxes where she was hiding.

"She was scared so Banshee was able to find her. It was getting cold out and she was able to find her and get her some medical help," Witt says.

That rewarding moment was just one of many this dynamic duo has had in the past two months.

Banshee has also helped track down two burglary suspects, assisted the California Highway Patrol in finding a hit-and-run driver and led deputies to a domestic violence suspect holed up in a chicken coop.

"Banshee is like my kid. When she does something great, it just makes me super excited, way more than if I walked out there and was able to find someone myself. When Banshee does it, it's just over the top," says Witt.

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The two have been living, working, and training together for the past three years, even flying in helicopters and rappelling to prepare for searches under any circumstances. Over the summer, they attended an FBI course in Washington, DC.

"The tools I learned there and brought home were able to help me eliminate a lot of distractions and just help us focus on what's going on and take our game to the next level," Witt says.

Banshee is one of eight K-9s at the Merced County Sheriff's Office. The others perform a variety of roles, from sniffing out drugs and guns to catching criminals.

They also help the department connect with the community.

Banshee loves visiting schools and even has her own social media followers.

"She is as we know a PR dream, but she really does solid work. And hats off to Dustin who keeps her trained, and he is probably one of our premiere handlers at this point in time," says Lt. Jeff Coburn.

Banshee even wore a 'Batgirl' cape as she set out on Halloween to fight crime and continue earning her superhero status.
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