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Sniffer dog saves woman

A POLICE SNIFFER dog earned huge praise praised after it found a missing woman deep in thick undergrowth in a city wood.

Edinburgh Police said the 33-year-old woman may have died if the German Shepherd ‘Sam’ had not come to her rescue.

The woman was suffering from the early stages of hypothermia when she was found semi-conscious in the bushes just south of Fairmilehead. Officers believe she may have been lying there for several hours.

It is understood that the woman crawled into the undergrowth and went to sleep in the hope that she would not be found in an attempted suicide bid.

The woman, who suffers from depression and has gone missing before, was last seen on Friday at about 3.30pm walking towards the city bypass..

Police said they were concerned for her safety as she was wearing light clothing and the weather was wet and cold. A search was launched after she failed to return to her Morningside home on Saturday morning.

Police dog handler Constable Dougie Donnelly, who has been working with Sam for almost two years, described how they found the woman.

He said: "We were searching woodland in between the Winton housing estate and the city bypass, just south of Fairmilehead, because the woman was last seen there. The weather was pretty bad - it was raining and very cold. However, we hadn’t been searching for long when Sam began to react to something.

"He was sniffing near some undergrowth and I could tell by his body language that he was on to something. He then started barking and making his way into the undergrowth. I followed him in and that’s when we saw the woman lying there."

PC Donnelly said the woman was shocked when she realised she had been found.

He added: "She was quite disorientated. She was extremely cold and was in the first stages of hypothermia. The first thing she said when she came round was: ‘How did you find me?’

"She had just crawled into the undergrowth to hide and to go to sleep. She was suffering from depression and obviously did not want to be found.

"However, I do not know how much longer she would have survived out there. She must have been lying there a good few hours - who knows what could have happened to her if she had not been found."

The constable went on to praise five-year-old Sam. "He really is very good at his job - he’s a complete natural," he said.