Boone County bloodhounds prove successful as department spreads word about new program

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BOONE COUNTY, Ind. – The Boone County Sheriff’s Office is trying to spread the word about a new program being offered to families.

Hoosiers can get scent kits for free by stopping at the Lebanon Fire Department or the Boone County Sheriff’s Office. Parents can rub their child or elderly parent down with a gauze pad and put it in a glass jar.

“You seal it and put their name on it,” Detective Clint Stewart said. “That way, in the event that your loved one goes missing, all you have to do is call us.”

Stewart said if a child or senior citizen goes missing, the department’s bloodhounds could use the scent to track the individual down more quickly.

“Now, we’re not searching for a shoe, we’re not searching for a shirt or a pillow that could be contaminated with somebody else,” he explained.

Boone County is one of three departments throughout central Indiana that has bloodhounds. The department acquired Chase and Makya in 2018 from an organization called “Find-m-Friends” in Florida. Stewart said they added bloodhounds to the staff, in part thanks to the late Deputy Jacob Pickett.

“Obviously, we were a smaller department, so we were all really close with Deputy Pickett. It really hit us all hard,” he explained. “It was always a dream of his to have the best K9 division we could have and so after his passing, we decided that the best way to grow it was to add bloodhounds to what we already had.”

Bloodhounds are the largest breed of cold-scent hounds, meaning they are suited to older and longer tracks. That is a benefit when deputies are called to the scene a day after someone has gone missing or don’t have much to go on. The dogs have been called out at least 27 times since October 2018, and they have made at least four confirmed finds.

“Meaning, the dog came up on the person that was missing,” Stewart said.

The dogs also help apprehend suspects.

“We have had 23 arrests that resulted, not necessarily from the dogs, but as a joint effort where the dogs have been on a call,” Stewart explained. “We lead officers in the direction and they make the apprehension.”

CBS4 got an exclusive look at their weekly training. In the first scenario, the “suspect” left his sunglasses near the road. He hid in a wooded area.

“It’s going to happen fast,” Stewart said. “She’s already wanting to go after his odor.”

Within four minutes, Makya found the “suspect.” The detectives gave her cut-up hot dog as a reward.

“The hound is the lead. The hound is telling me where to go and so it’s a lot of learning to trust your dog,” Stewart said.

In the second scenario, Detective Ryan Musgrave and his dog Chase navigated down a hill and through a field. Again, within minutes, Chase sniffed out his target.

“If you need us, call us,” the detectives urged.

While they have helped surrounding counties already, the detectives are hoping to travel more often.

“The whole point is to save lives and to help people,” Stewart said. “We’re willing to travel out of state if need be.”

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