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Hound noses its way onto Cheney force

Dog will be trained to track criminals, missing people

She has floppy ears, big feet and a heck of a sniffer.

April, a 5-month-old bloodhound, is the newest member of the Cheney police force. Donated by the Sheriff’s Office in Newberry County, S.C., she will help the department track missing people.

“It’s rare to have a bloodhound as a patrol dog,” said Chief Jeff Sale. She is one of three bloodhounds in the state working with police departments.

Although the department is calling the new dog April for now, she doesn’t know her name yet. Police plan to hold a contest with local schoolchildren to name her.

Her partner is Officer Zeb Campbell. April has been living at Campbell’s house since she arrived in Cheney last Friday. A working dog, she will live a different life from Campbell’s pet dog. April will live in a backyard kennel and only go into the house on her way to the kennel.

“I don’t look at her as a pet, I look at her as a partner,” Campbell said.

Campbell will participate in April’s training, which has already begun. They started by sending her after a person with a 30-minute head start.

“She’s finding them,” Campbell said.

Campbell said her training will take four or five months, depending on how well she does. After that, April will ride in Campbell’s patrol car, already equipped for K-9 officers.

The biggest challenge with April is she gets distracted by people or other dogs, Campbell said.

April is what Campbell called a “praise-driven” dog, meaning she isn’t rewarded with toys or treats, but with praise.

Sale said that when Campbell and April flew back from South Carolina last week, the weather was too hot for airport officials to safely keep her in the cargo hold of the airplane. April is a service dog, so the airline let her fly in the cabin with Campbell.

Sale said the funds for April’s upkeep will come from private donations – Defender Development and Farmers Insurance have donated funds, Cheney resident and candidate for City Council Graeme Webster is donating April’s food, and Blackhawk Veterinary Hospital is donating its services for her care. The South Carolina sheriff’s department will also help mentor Officer Campbell and April.

Sale is also looking for grant opportunities.

He said the department had been interested in getting a bloodhound because they are non-aggressive dogs that don’t bite. April will help find missing children, adults who have walked away from care centers and hospitals, and can track criminals.

“We don’t have a fear of her biting someone,” Sale said.

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