Hero Dogs to the Rescue

By Paula Neely | April 28th, 2016

Police dogs have an array of duties almost as large as the police officers themselves.

Police departments use dogs to find missing children and lost Alzheimer’s patients, as well as to sniff out narcotics, track and apprehend bad guys, and detect accelerants and explosives, says Sgt. Cliff Trunck of the Henrico Police Department.

Henrico has nine dogs, including German shepherds, pointers, labs, Belgian Malinois and a bloodhound. Each dog lives with an officer who trains and handles it.

Throughout Virginia, there are also eight certified volunteer Search and Rescue dog teams who assist police and respond to disasters, according to Mark Eggeman, search and rescue coordinator for the Virginia Department of Emergency Services. Many are handled by boomers.

The dogs are trained to find either living people or human remains. Eggeman said dogs can pick up the scent of a person from a half mile away and detect a decaying body even if it’s buried.

Training takes about two years and is coordinated through volunteer organizations in different regions of the state. In central Virginia, it’s offered through K-9 Alert, Search and Rescue Dogs, Inc.

Since 1985, dog teams from Virginia have also responded to national and international disasters, including earthquakes, 9-11 and the Oklahoma City bombing.

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