Two new recruits are lending their sharp noses to the Henderson County Sheriff’s Office in North Carolina. The department recently purchased two Bloodhound puppies from a Tennessee breeder and have begun training them in tracking.
“We are really just working on socialization now, getting them used to walking on a leash, and very basic training,” says Corporal Jeff Banks. Banks leads the training of the K9s, who are just over two months old. Just recently, he oversaw a training for which the puppies completed a 15-yard track with the help of treats and a little encouragement. “They’re just going through the motions right now, but it’ll pay off when they’re older,” Banks explains.
He says the puppies will be fully certified in six to eight months, possibly sooner. By the time they’re fully trained, they’ll be able to perform tracks two to three miles long. They’ll also be able to work on various types of terrain, with both physical and scent distractions, and on trails that have turns.
The sheriff’s office currently has two older female Bloodhounds working in tracking—the puppies will replace those dogs when they retire. The department also has two Belgian Malinois working in narcotics detection.
When it comes to finding missing persons or searching for suspects, Banks believes the Bloodhounds are ideal. “They’re bred and built for this type of work,” he says. “When they put their heads down, their skin covers their eyes a bit and their ears fall forward, forming a tunnel-like effect to help them focus on the scent."
Their personality and will to work helps, too. “They’ve got a lot of drive and love what they do,” he adds. “It’s just instinctual for them. I tell the young handlers, ‘I’m going to spend six months training this dog and the next eight years training you.’ The dogs just know what to do.”
The new dogs don’t yet have names—the county’s fifth graders are currently submitting names to be considered. The classes who pick the final names for the puppies will get a visit from the puppy they’ve named.
See more pictures of the pups, courtesy the Henderson County Sheriff's Office: