Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

Local News

August 24, 2008

K-9 unit benefit to community

Tracking dogs at correctional complex trained to find prisoners, missing people

SANDY HOOK — The new K-9 Unit at the Little Sandy Correctional Complex near Sandy Hook was created primarily to track inmates who flee from the prison, but since the two bloodhounds who make up the unit arrived at Little Sandy in May, they have been called to help find two missing people in the community.

In both cases, the missing people were found before the dogs arrived, said Linda Ison, an administrative specialist at the prison. Nevertheless, the trained tracking dogs were willing and able to try to sniff out the trail of the missing people if they had not been found.

Lt. Mike Finch and Lt. Charles Pennington traveled to Bell County Forestry Camp in May for a week of training with the two dogs, Chenoa and King. They received instruction on human tracking, the use of scent tracking by using articles containing a scent, and the handling of the canines. Finch and Pennington received certification upon completion of the training.

Warden Joseph Meko said the K-9 Unit was started to better implement a quick response for the prison in the event of an escape, but the dogs also can be used in the community.

The two times the dogs have been called into action are good examples of how they can be used in the community, Ison said. In one instance, a woman fled from sheriff’s deputies as she was being escorted into the courtroom at the Elliott County Courthouse in Sandy Hook. Before the dogs arrived, the woman was found hiding in a clothes dryer. In the other instance, a middle-aged man with dementia had wandered off on his own, Ison said. He was found by family members before the dogs arrived.

The dogs are only trained for tracking, Ison said. Unlike canine units maintained by some local police departments, Chenoa and King are not trained to sniff out drugs.

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