Attention, bad guys: K9 Smokey is in the house. The Statesboro Police Department recently welcomed the long-awaited, personable bloodhound to its stable of K9 officers, and Smokey, a dog born to follow his nose, is the department’s third police dog, joining narcotics detection dogs Rio and Mono.
Donated almost a year ago by Michael Duncan of Southern Edge Kennels, Smokey has been in training ever since, and has made some pretty significant tracks along the way as he aced challenge after challenge, Duncan said.
“We are excited that K9 Smokey has joined us,” said Statesboro Police Chief Mike Broadhead. “He brings us a tracking capability that we do not currently have, and will be immensely valuable to help us locate missing children as well as tracking criminal suspects. We want to express our thanks to Michael Duncan who not only donated Smokey to the Police department, but he spent the last year training him for this job.”
Duncan, best known for his bloodhound K9 Red, who has made a name for himself in the tracking world, has a special spot in his heart for Smokey, who is Red’s offspring.
Calling the transition from training in his care to Smokey going to the police department, under his handler, Officer Patrick Webb, “bittersweet,” Duncan said the bloodhound is “one of the best trailing dogs I’ve ever had.”
K9 Smokey completed his initial training phase with Duncan and “will continue his training and the foundation I’ve set for him throughout his career,” he said.
Smokey is the first Statesboro Police tracking/trailing dog and will be used to track criminals at large and locate missing persons.
“Smokey and I have had some great times over the last year and have definitely learned a few things from each other.” He said. “(He) got his level 1 certification at five months old and went on to catch his first two criminals at seven months old. It’s been an honor and pleasure to train this man-hunting machine.”
Duncan and Webb worked together in transitioning the dog. In his three final training tracks, “the first track was approximately 1,000 yards, one and a half hours old, and the second was approximately 700 yard, and hour and 45 minutes old,” he said. “After that we took Smokey to the vet to get his clean bill of health followed by a nice bath to start his new career off fresh.”
The third track of the day was an urban track that was 500 yards long and 40 minutes old. “He rocked all three of his tracks and ended mine and his time with a bang.”
Broadhead said Webb is set to start some “intensive training time” with Smokey. “Once the team is fully operational, they will aid us in our efforts to help Statesboro be the best possible place to live, work, and attend school.”
Both he and Duncan expressed appreciation for Joey Coty at JAB Construction for sponsoring K9 Smokey over the last year by covering all of Smokey’s food, vet expenses and training expenses.
Smokey, who was named by public voting through a Facebook contest on the Statesboro Police Department’s page, will make a guest appearance at the Anti-Bullying Day event at Mill Creek Park Saturday, July 27 at 10 a.m.
Herald reporter Holli Deal Saxon may be reached at 912-489-9414.