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"Radar,” a Bloodhound handled by Frank Hurst of Kiowa, Colorado.

Radar is a “decomposition dog” who is trained to pick up the scent of death. He can also find missing people, suspects of crimes, and track evidence. Now eight years old, Radar has been training for this since he was just 10 weeks old. Since then, he’s helped put away about 24 murders and has helped in countless other cases.

The talented Bloodhound was recently in the spotlight for his part in solving the murder of 29-year-old Kelsey Berreth. Kelsey’s fiancé, Patrick Frazee, soon became the main suspect after not reporting her missing on Thanksgiving 2018. Though all signs pointed to Patrick, Kelseys remains had still not been found. The following February, K-9 Coordinator Frank Hurst and Radar were asked to assist in the case.

“We were contacted by the CBI to go check a location for human decomposing scent,” Frank said. “We went there, and Radar indicated when we entered the barn.”

Radar searched a red barn at Nash Ranch. Detectives believed Patrick used the barn to hide Kelsey’s body at one point. Inside the barn, Radar indicated a positive hit for the smell of human decomposition next to hay bales. Then, Hurst noticed small stains at the top of the hay bales. That’s when he got Radar on top of the tall pile of hay, stacked 12 to 15 feet high

Once he was on top of the hay, Radar sat by the stained area indicating the scent of human decomposition. Radar’s work eventually helped convict Patrick of murder.

Radar the Superhero

When Radar isn’t solving murders, he’s helping detectives track evidence and people including missing Alzheimer patients and children.

“We always joke, he can find you dead or alive, because he’s a tracker dog,” Frank said. “Just a couple of weeks ago we helped find a missing Alzheimer patient who has been missing for over 20 hours and Radar found her alive. He does all of it, whatever they need.”

Years ago, Frank had to put his first Bloodhound, Red, down. While Frank’s boss told him to take as much time as he needed off, he received a call 10 hours later from another county that there was a missing dementia patient.

“She went missing around 10 o’clock at night and it was 30 degrees out,” he explained. “By the time I got there, she had been missing for about three hours. I had to use Radar because I just put Red down, my best buddy then.”

He gave Radar the scent, and he started tracking. Finding people with Dementia and Alzheimer’s is typically harder than finding criminals, Frank said.

So Radar and Frank tracked in circles around a neighborhood for about three miles. Then, all of a sudden Radar got animated and started pulling. Frank knew right away that when Radar was working — he usually doesn’t get distracted by other animals.

“I always had a tag on my other dog [Red] that said ‘faith’, you know to have faith in your dog,” he said. “I asked Radar ‘Do you have her buddy?’ and he started pulling, so we went, and right around the corner she was there, she was alive.

“I was really emotional, I mean Radar came through. I just put my other dog down, it was a real emotional day,” Frank added.

Along with helping solve crimes and finding missing people, Radar is just a regular dog who likes to hang out, go camping, and play with his siblings — chickens, a horse, another Bloodhound in training, and a Belgian Malinois.

And, like most dogs, he’s comforting during tough times. “He’s just a really cool dog, he’s like my psychotherapist,” Frank said. “Because we deal with a lot of bad, bad stuff… When we’re done, I have this floppy-eared, drooly dog who I can just take out and love on him, play with him.”

Why Bloodhounds are Perfect for Tracking

“Bloodhounds are designed for tracking — everything about them. Their nose, their ears, their olfactory system,” Frank said

Bloodhounds are great at tracking scents because they have 300 million scent receptors, which is more than any other breed. In fact, they’re so good at tracking that a Bloodhound’s tracking results are acceptable in almost all courts.

In addition to a great nose, their long ears sweep up scents. “All the folds in their skin help hold the scent, and all the drool helps hold the scent,” Frank explained. “Skin covers their eyes when they’re down tracking so the brush and stuff don’t hurt their eyes and act as a blinder so they have to use their nose to follow the scent.”

A Bloodhound’s stubborn and inquisitive personality also makes them great at tracking. “That’s why I like Bloodhounds,” Frank added. “They’re just amazing, and they’re big, they’re goofy, they’re very stubborn and tenacious, so they never give up on a track.”

2016 ACE Awards recipient for Uniformed Service K-9: “Radar,” a Bloodhound handled by Frank Hurst of Kiowa, Colorado; 2016 AKC National Championship presented by Royal Canin in Orlando, FL.

Helping Find Missing People Across Colorado

When Frank first started working Bloodhounds he was working with the Sheriff’s Office, but the office would charge around $600 a day for him to go help other agencies.

Frank wanted everyone to receive help from the dogs — even poor counties — so he started a nonprofit called Bloodhound Man Trackers, Inc. The nonprofit assists agencies across the state by training Bloodhound K9 Teams for law enforcement for free.

These handlers don’t make money or charge anything when they’re assisting other agencies — they only use donations to cover gas and other expenses.

Frank says when Radar isn’t finding missing people or helping to solve murder cases, he’s just his family pet and “my superhero.”

Radar was a 2016 recipient of The AKC Humane Fund Awards For Canine Excellence (ACE). You can nominate a heroic dog before entries close at 5 p.m. EST on July 31, 2020.

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