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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – The Pittsburgh Bureau of Police K-9 Unit is welcoming its newest member. As adorable as he is, he has a serious job.
The bloodhound puppy is expected to become the Bureau’s most effective tool in finding people.
Say hello to K-9 Loki.
“Everybody wants to meet him,” said Sgt. Sean Duffy, who oversees the Bureau’s K-9 Unit.
As soon as you do, you can’t help falling in love. K-9 Loki will be trained to do an ultra-important job.
“They have the most sensitive nose in the canine world,” said Sgt. Duffy.
K-9 Loki will use his to find people who have lost their way.
“He will be the most effective tool we have in locating people,” said Sgt. Duffy.
K-9 Officer Kevin Merkel will be his handler.
“I’ll be following him and reading him as he’s walking from the woods. I’ll be able to tell if he’s air-scenting, if we’re getting close. If he keeps his nose down, we’ve got a ways to go,” said Merkel.
All of the Bureau’s bomb and drug detection K-9’s are also trained to track and do apprehensions. The big distinction with K-9 Loki will be a friendly greeting at the end of the track.
“He’ll be very passive and friendly when he finds you, whereas our patrol dogs are more aggressive naturally because they’re trained that way,” said K-9 Officer Merkel.
Bloodhounds have been tracking scents since Roman times. The bloodhound is the first animal whose evidence was admissible in some U.S. Courts.
“They have 40 times the amount of receptors, olfactory receptors in their nose. There are some estimates, I’ve seen, from 300 times more sensitive than a human’s up to 10,000,” Sgt. Duffy said.
K-9 Loki will also do what’s called trailing. He will be able to follow people by distinguishing between scents, whereas with tracking there is an immediate disturbance in the ground.
“So if you’re the endangered, you’re walking through a park, there are hundreds of people who walk through parks in the summertime. You end up going in the woods. He’s going to follow your scent as opposed to the other hundred people walking down the street,” said K-9 Officer Merkel.
K-9 Loki will also assist with Project Lifesaver.
“Locating missing children, Alzheimer’s patients, children with autism,” said Sgt. Duffy.
The Allegheny County District Attorney’s Office sponsors the program. Loved ones at risk of wandering can be enrolled for free.
“Whenever we do locate whoever we’re looking for, it’ll be a friendly – ‘Hey, how are ya? Time to go home,’” said K-9 Officer Merkel.
K-9 Loki is only 9 weeks old now and enjoying being a puppy.
“Probably in about another week or so, doing some puppy trails. We’re going to get him a harness,” said K-9 Officer Merkel.
He will train until he is about 1 year old. Then, he will go to work serving the people of Pittsburgh with the rest of his team.
Recently, KDKA Legal Editor Julie Grant has done some reporting to shine a light on the lack of state funding for K-9’s in Pennsylvania.
K-9 Loki was donated to the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police by Lori Hanson, of Hanson Hounds in Iowa. The department is extremely grateful. Monetary donations are always kindly accepted in the Officer Rocco K-9 Memorial Fund.
If you would like to donate or learn more, click here: community.pittsburghfoundation.org/rocco
If you would like to learn more about Project Lifesaver, including how to enroll your loved one, click here: alleghenycountyda.us/project-lifesaver.