By RAYCHEL HARVEY-JONES
The Herald-Mail of Hagerstown
HAGERSTOWN, Md. (AP) — A local man has donated a 17-week-old female bloodhound to the Washington County Sheriff’s Office.
“Bess” will be trained to track missing children.
“I have always loved dogs and especially bloodhounds,” said John Reece, the Hagerstown resident and breeder who donated Bess. “I am so glad that I can do some good for the community and donate her to the sheriff’s office.”
“We have received a dog through donation in the past but never a bloodhound,” said Washington County Sheriff Douglas Mullendore. “We are thrilled that Mr. Reece has given us Bess to add to the other five canines within the canine program,” Mullendore said.
Mullendore said such a dog typically would cost the department between $4,000 and $6,000.
A Maryland law change adds to the importance of Bess’ duties.
“In October 2011 the law changed, shifting the responsibility of looking for missing children to the sheriff’s office,” Mullendore said. “Bess will be used to track missing children and the elderly who stray due to dementia and other illnesses.”
Reece said his son helped him find two male bloodhounds in Texas and a female in Arkansas for breeding.
“I chose the bloodhound breed as they have the ability to find people, which makes me feel good,” he said.
And, he said, “they are a beautiful dog.”
Reece said he also donated a bloodhound to Maryland State Police.
Bess’ handler, Deputy 1st Class John Martin, has been working with the canine program at the sheriff’s office for 15 years.
“Bloodhounds make great dogs for tracking as they are a large scent dog,” Martin said. “We are in the early stages of training with Bess using a method known as puppy trails. It’s like hide-and-seek but with a dog.”
In April, Bess will attend a 10-week training class and “as soon as she is certified we will put her to work,” Martin said.
“The bloodhound has been used since the middle ages to hunt human beings, and now they are often bred for that very purpose,” Martin said. “The dog is known for its ability to detect a human smell days after it leaves an area, over great distance and even across water.”
“The bloodhound has a very large nose and they keep their heads low to the ground, which means they transfer all their sense of smell through the wrinkles in their nose, making them the perfect dog to detect smells,” Martin said.
In recognition of his donation, the sheriff awarded Reece a certificate.
(Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)