Bloodhound joins Cass County Missing Child Response Team

For the past two months, Tiffany Graves has been training the newest member of the Cass County Missing Child Response Team.

Graves is volunteering her own time and money to train "Nellie," because she's seen for herself what an asset a bloodhound can be. Graves was a police officer in a canine unit in Florida for four years.

"We just had so many good things come for the people down there that I just wanted to bring this to the people of this area," said Graves.

Before Nellie, there wasn't a bloodhound available to police within several hundred miles.

"There's another one in Michigan that is beginning to get trained, however it was not available to us," said Dowagiac Deputy Police Chief Steve Grinnewald.

Police say bloodhounds bring skills to a search that normal police dogs can't.

"Normal police dogs go by scent that's created by breaking grass, by walking through an area. It can be contaminated," said Grinnewald. "If other workers, searchers, helpers come through and contaminate that scene, that dog's going to have a very tough time picking up which one to go after."

Graves said bloodhounds are what is known as a "scent discriminating dog," which means they can detect one scent over another.

"Every dog is a great tool, but a bloodhound specifically can follow a scent 24 hours old or older across pavement after rain and snow," said Graves.

At 13 weeks old, Nellie is following between three to five tracks a week. As she gets older, she'll be able to track farther distances and for longer periods of time.

Nellie is a member of the team police say will be invaluable when time is of the essence.

"74 percent of the children that are abducted and murdered are murdered within three hours of being abducted. Fifty-eight percent of child abductions are not called in for almost two hours--we're behind the eight ball right from the beginning," said Grinnewald. "The sooner we can get that started, the better chance we have of it coming to a good conclusion."

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