OKLAHOMA CITY – The Oklahoma Department of Corrections released adorable pictures of a new litter of bloodhound puppies that will assist the department as well as local and state law enforcement agencies in fugitive apprehension and other tracking efforts.
Once trained, officials say these 12 beautiful bloodhounds will provide each prison facility across the state with at least one dog trained in scent specific tracking.
Training begins when the dogs reach 12-weeks-old and takes around 20 months to completely train the dogs.
Prior to the new litter, officials say the DOC did not have enough dogs at facilities across the state to track an inmate and would have to deploy dogs from a different facility.
Often times when the tracking dogs arrived at the facility the scent would be gone or indistinguishable for the dog to pick up on.
Corrections Director Joe M. Allbaugh said the need for scent specific tracking dogs goes beyond the department and fugitive apprehension efforts and into communities across the state that call when they need assistance.
“One of our most recent calls for assistance was from a local police department after a Silver Alert was issued,” Allbaugh said. “We were able to bring a hound out, locate the individual who had left a facility treating them for Alzheimer’s and bring them back safely.”
“For the DOC, protecting the public goes beyond our facilities, and it is an honor to serve the citizens of the state in more ways than one,” he continued.
The DOC has also deployed its scent specific tracking dogs in response to manhunts for the Oklahoma Highway Patrol (OHP), local sheriff’s offices, police departments and in cases of lost children.
Commissioner of Public Safety Michael Thompson said the OHP routinely calls on our law enforcement partners at the DOC for help in search efforts.
“The majority of our dogs are trained for narcotics or explosives, not to track a fugitive or a lost child,” Thompson said. “It is a significant and valuable asset for us when you can call in a trained bloodhound and experienced dog handler to assist in an emergency situation. The program works well to ensure public safety on all fronts.”
After the recent litter is trained, the DOC will have 30 bloodhounds specifically used for tracking, 13 narcotics dogs, two cellphone dogs and 11 being trained for various specialties, said K-9 Program Coordinator Richard Price.
“We have a versatile group of dogs we can use in a number of different situations, which is why we get calls from communities,” Price said. “We are pleased with the progress of the current program and excited about the possibilities of what fugitive apprehension efforts of the future looks like for the state. This is just the tip of the iceberg.”
In addition to helping prisons and communities across the state, the in-house training and breeding program is saving the department thousands of dollars it would have to spend purchasing a fully trained dog.
“Our goal is for this program to be a model for other states and agencies facing similar problems to ours,” Allbaugh said. “We are going to continue to utilize and prioritize the program to ensure we can put a stop to contraband, fleeing inmates and help our communities when they are in need.”