Sheriff recruits new nose
WINCHESTER – The newest addition to the Frederick County Sheriff’s Office has plenty of wrinkles, a great sense of smell and is almost nine weeks old.
A young male bloodhound pup came to the office from Westport, New York, on Monday, specifically tested and picked from his litter to become a working dog. The dog is living with his handler, Deputy A. Jeter, who he’ll work with to sniff out and track down missing persons.
Sheriff Lenny Millholland said it’s been about eight years since the office has used the help of a bloodhound, the last one having retired. He’s surveyed social media to get name suggestions for the new pup, looking for a suitable bloodhound name and getting plenty of responses collected from both the Sheriff’s Office Facebook page and his own account.
Millholland said he’ll probably narrow down the list to the top five names and settle on a winning name within a week or two. Popular suggestions so far have included names like Fred, Cooper, Tracker, Bullet and Beauregard.
The department already works with Project Life Saver, which allows law enforcement to quickly locate those with cognitive impairments using a transmitter wristband. In cases of lost or wandering individuals without the wristband, Millholland said that bloodhounds will use the missing person’s scent to track them from the place they were last seen.
“It’s just a game of hide and seek. He’ll have an odor, he’ll follow that odor, hopefully until he finds the person he’s looking for.”
Training for the puppy began almost as soon as he came to the office, and eventually he’ll be certified by the National Police Bloodhound Association with plenty of experience tracking people down. The association also hosts yearly seminars with training programs the hound and handler can take part in.
Once he has enough training at his own learning pace, Millholland said the yet-unnamed pup will be among four other dogs that work with the Sheriff’s Office.
“In a perfect world, you’d want him by the time he’s about a year old … but it’s constantly a training thing,” he said.
Millholland said he was a handler for 22 years himself, and said the hounds usually have about an eight- to 10-year career before they have to retire. He said they can follow any human scent and discern different scents, or scent discriminate, even from a lineup of multiple people.
In the past, he said he’d worked a search for two children that took tracking bloodhounds through water and ravines to find them.
“It was nothing to go to Romney and look for somebody in the pouring down rain, and we did that,” he said.
For now, the new bloodhound puppy will be testing out his tracking skills and sniffing introductions to his new coworkers at the Frederick County Public Safety Building.
Contact staff writer Rachel Mahoney at 540-465-5137 ext. 164, or firstname.lastname@example.org