Miraculous rescue in Ariège: how the dog Sonni helped the gendarmes find the missing person

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Sonni, an eight-year-old Malinois Belgian shepherd, is one of two dogs in the Ariège High Mountain Gendarmerie Platoon (PGHM). It was he who found the trail of a 35-year-old man who had been missing for two days in the heights of Ustou, 1,200 meters above sea level. The victim’s life is no longer in danger.

When his dog handler, police officer Éric Bruguière, comes to collect him, Sonni cannot stand still. This eight-year-old Belgian shepherd Malinois immediately understood that he had to have an exit ticket. For a good hour he will be able to roam around the barracks of the Ariège High Mountain Gendarmerie Platoon (PGHM), in Savignac-les-Ormeaux. He can roll around in the snow and crochet with his four-legged friends from the village. But when his master tells him to keep still, his hind legs wiggle.

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The dog knows a happy life after living in a SPA retreat in Isère. Sonni arrived in Ariège in 2016 and formed the duo with Warrant Officer Bruguière. “This is my second dog,” the soldier says fondly. Sonni is another hero from the rescue of a 35-year-old man who disappeared for two days in the mountains of Ustou and was found alive on Tuesday, January 24, 2023. He was the one who put the paw on the victim, in a condition of hypothermia, in the Ossese valley.

“He’s formatted to find what he’s looking for”

During the first 24 hours of research, however, he was not the one who went to smell the missing person. “During the first day, it was Oslow and his master, Chief Warrant Officer Frédéric Trotzier, who were on the operation,” explains Major Sébastien Cavallero, deputy commander of the PGHM. A night passed and Sonny’s turn came. He also benefited from the good work of a Saint-Hubert of the Nîmes (Gard) interregional cynophile group.

For this type of operation, Sonni is trained all year round. “On every exercise, the mission always ends well. He’s formatted to always find what he’s looking for. When he’s in operation, it’s always a little different, his master admits. When you come back empty-handed, it breaks the dynamic. ” It didn’t happen this time. When they left with their colleagues from Savignac-les-Ormeaux at 7.30, the police officer and his dog then surveyed the heights of the particularly steep valley.

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The flair of the Belgian Malinois was effective. And at noon the unfortunate man was found. Teamwork with air and food resources, about thirty gendarmes who were mobilized. For once, the end of the story is happy.

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