06/04/06 — Wayne Sheriff's Office gets new bloodhoud

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Wayne Sheriff's Office gets new bloodhoud

By Jack Stephens
Published in News on June 4, 2006 2:04 AM

The newest member of the Wayne County Sheriff's Office doesn't seem too interested in the commotion around her or her celebrity status.

She shakes her shiny brown coat and floppy ears and fixes her attention, instead, on a bird fluttering nearby.

After all, Katie the bloodhound is off duty.

For a year, the Wayne County Sheriff's Office has not had a bloodhound to track suspects and to find lost children. That is where Katie comes in.

How the office got the year-old dog is a story in itself.

Jimmy Howell, a retired state Highway Patrol trooper who trains the sheriff's dogs, said a quality bloodhound is hard to find. With his wife's help, he looked on the Internet and located the Kody Snodgrass Memorial Foundation in Homosassa, Fla.

The foundation works solely on donations and gives bloodhounds to indigent law-enforcement agencies. Howell said the waiting list is long.

At the same time, Robbie Strickland of the Strickland Insurance Group in Goldsboro agreed to donate $2,000 to buy a bloodhound.

Howell asked the foundation where the county would be on the waiting list if the organization received a $2,000 donation. Near the top was the reply.

Howell and Deputy Jayson Hill went to the foundation's training grounds at Adel, Ga., to find a new canine officer.

Duke Snodgrass operates the foundation and has raised his own bloodhounds for years. His son, Kody, an officer with a dog in Florida, was killed in an off-duty motorcycle wreck. Before he died, Kody made Snodgrass promise he would start a foundation and give departments bloodhounds.

"His son's death set the father on fire, because he had to keep the promise," Howell said.

Snodgrass opened the foundation. He breeds the dogs and then gives the puppies to foster families for seven months. Then the pups are returned to the foundation for training.

Katie is Wayne County's fourth bloodhound. The first, Goldie, a donated dog, was retired, later died and was memorialized with a plaque in the Sheriff's Office. Lucy, a donated dog, and Rufus, who was bought, died from the same illness.

Howell said Goldie was responsible for 27 captured suspects, and Lucy and Rufus got 44 more.

Among those Goldie caught was a man who would later be charged and convicted of the murder of a Duplin County driver's license examiner, Charles Dewey Kornegay.

Goldie caught John Christopher Hall in 1996 after he and another man broke into a couple's home on a June day in Rosewood.

Officers found a bandanna that was dropped by one suspect. Goldie zeroed in on the scent, pulled Deputy Jason Crocker, her handler, along and headed toward a wheat field. The second suspect, Gary Rance Hurley, was found in the field that had been fanned by a Highway Patrol helicopter.

Hall was caught six hours later, about a mile away.

But Howell said finding Katie was not simply a matter of choosing a dog -- she had to be the right canine for the job.

"As long as I've been in the dog business, I've never had anything like this," he said. "I spent three-and-a-half days playing with dogs. When I came back, that's all I smelled like."

Howell called Katie "amazing, awesome and a great dog." He her at his home because, he said, she is too big to fit in a deputy's patrol car.

Katie already has already been working. A man was robbed of about $100 recently on Colonel Warrick Drive near Dudley.

"By the time we got there, there was so much activity in the area," Howell said. "All we did was put her on the ground, giving her experience in a populated area."

A bloodhound could have been helpful in the last year. Howell said a boy was missing in Rosewood and the sheriff's Belgian Malinois search dogs could not pick up the scent.

"It would have been a good case for a bloodhound," he said. "That is what they are bred for, finding people."

Howell said Katie is a gentle dog. When she locates a suspect, "she puts her paw on them," he said.

And at home, when she isn't working, she is a valued member of the family, he added.

"This dog right here is such a lover," Howell said, reaching over to ruffle Katie's ears.

Howell said the Sheriff's Office is affiliated with the N.C. Emergency Management Office and will offer its dogs for search-and-rescue efforts any where east of Winston-Salem.

"Almost each night I see on the news that someone is missing," Howell said. "I wonder why they don't call us to help. That's their misfortune."

Before the sheriff's office got its first bloodhound in 1995, Howell said, "The bad guys would run. Then the word got out that we had a dog, and they stopped running."

Katie is ready to pursue them again.

But for now, she is content to enjoy her favorite pastimes, rolling in the grass and chasing birds.