Heroic dog praised for key role in 78-year-old owner’s rescue in New Jersey

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The dutiful daughter of the missing 78-year-old man whose dog led first responders to him in the New Jersey woods last month is speaking out.

Heidi Sarno said she expected her father Fred Rapp to be home by 4:30 p.m. on Nov. 27. Eight hours later Manchester police were using humvees, drones and GPS equipment to close in on the missing man in the wooded area along State Highway 35, but were coming up empty. 

Rapp had crashed his car and was lost, but off-duty Sgt. Charles Brooks was hunting in the 251-acre Crossley Preserve site and stumbled upon Rapp’s dog Petey, who had left her owner to seek help.

“My dad has some forgetfulness and was lost in the woods,” Sarno said. 

“He is an outdoorsman so it doesn’t surprise me that he was out that way, but after so many hours of being lost, he had the dog with him and she clearly went ahead to find help. Whether she heard the hunter in the woods, the sergeant in the woods, or what happened… but she went ahead and found help and that’s when the sergeant noticed her and she led him to where my father was located.”


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