New Castle News

September 17, 2013

Police dogs don’t track like bloodhounds

Nancy Lowry
New Castle News

NEW CASTLE — Avi, Neshannock Township’s K-9 officer, is not a one-trick pony — or puppy.

But he’s not a bloodhound either.

The 19-month-old German shepherd, who came from the Czech Republic, is trained in narcotics, attack and tracking and has performed admirably in those areas, said Lt. John Rand, commanding officer of the Neshannock Township Police Department.

“But this is not tracking like a bloodhound,” Rand explained.

When police dogs “track,” Rand explained, they are more apt to catch a scent of what he called fear hormones, a scent given off by an anxious person fleeing the police.

“A bloodhound, on the other hand, can smell a glove, get that scent in its head and won’t stop until it finds someone matching that smell.”

This is why, Rand said, Avi was not useful in locating Betty Richardson, 77, who had wandered away from her son’s Catalina Drive house the morning of Sept. 5.

“We brought our dog in,” Rand said. “We thought we’d give it a try, especially since we were looking in a wooded area. But we didn’t have much success.”

Rand said Richardson was believed to have left the house between 1 and 2 a.m. Police were not called until 11:30 a.m.

“About 12 hours had elapsed and this dog is just not trained to pick up a cold scent, like a bloodhound could.”

Richardson was located by neighbors near her son’s home.

However, in the time Avi has been with the department, Rand said, he has learned to appreciate his newest officer.

“If you have a situation and you pull up with the dog, everything changes,” he said. “Everyone gets more cooperative and it’s, ‘Yes, sir. No, sir,’ even if the police are greatly outnumbered.”

Doing work he was trained for, Avi has performed admirably, Rand said.

“At the scene of a burglary in progress, he found one person inside the building. Outside, he located the flip-flop sandal of a woman who took off.”