Rock County officials found missing hiker Kevin Doyle’s two dogs dead in Storrs Lake Thursday, and say they now consider the search for Doyle turning into a search and recovery operation.
The Rock County Sheriff’s Office dismissed volunteers Thursday who came to the park to search for Doyle on foot, after the two yellow Labrador Retrievers were discovered in icy waters in Milton’s Storrs Lake Park.
“I am just devastated they found the pups,” says MaryAnn Knudsen. Knudsen is a dog breeder who connected Doyle with the younger lab, Ollie.
“I know Kevin was with them every minute of the day,” Knudsen says.
Rock County Sheriff Troy Knutson says recent snowfall covered some of the park water’s ice. He says there is open water in the lake and conditions could confuse visitors.
Since Doyle, 66, and his pets set out in the park Wednesday morning and did not return home, a number of law enforcement units, a National Guard helicopter, tracking dogs, searchers on horseback and dozens of volunteers have looked for the missing hiker.
Knudsen says she’s holding on to hope as she tries to manage her swirl of emotion.
“To hear the pups are gone and try to keep positive,” Knudsen.
Knudson says the search effort now involves boats and divers and is focused on the park’s bodies of water.