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D.C. Police Add Sharp-Nosed Four-Legged Member To Ranks

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Sam the bloodhound is the Metropolitan Police Department's newest recruit.
WAMU/Martin Austermuhle
Sam the bloodhound is the Metropolitan Police Department's newest recruit.

D.C.'s Metropolitan Police Department introduced their newest recruit today, and he's got a nose for the job.

Sam is kinda short, a little lazy, and he smells. But that's the point: he's a bloodhound, the police department's first, and he's been brought on to help find missing people. It's a task Police Chief Cathy Lanier says he's perfect for.

"When people ask me why Sam is so special, you have to think of Sam as kind of a detective," says Lanier. "So he is the advanced version of our canine, and he will actually go and investigate, and track, and look for a missing person who may have Alzheimer's, a missing child who may be lost in either an urban or in a wooded area."

Soon to be two, Sam's been training for the task since he was eight weeks old. Purchased for $8,000 from a specialized trainer in Virginia, he will join the 42 shepherds and Labradors on the K-9 unit that sniff out everything from explosives to escapees.

Sgt. Johnnie Walter, Sam's keeper on the department's K-9 unit, says bloodhounds are biologically tailored for the task.

"Their olfactory senses are so much stronger than any other animal, and this is the oldest tracking breed there is, they've been around for 1,000 years," says Walter.

In his short time on the force, he's already tracked down two missing people, one who jumped on a bus and traveled across town. He also managed to find Lanier, who hid in a courtyard at MPD headquarters to test Sam's skillful smelling.

Lanier sees another upside to Sam's recruitment: he's pretty adorable.

"He's kinda got that look, don't you think? Maybe he'll be our real McGruff, our four-legged McGruff. "

Sam is expected to remain on the force for eight or nine years.

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