MARTIN COUNTY — Bounding through woods at Halpatiokee Regional Park one recent afternoon, Remi the bloodhound strained against his leash, following the trail of a person who had secreted herself from sight.
Remi, with the Martin County Sheriff’s Office, crossed a small stream, turned right, then went left, and quickly led his handler, Deputy Charles Jenkins, and other deputies racing behind, to the person.
The demonstration exercise made clear the skills the black-and-tan pooch can bring to cases of missing adults, children or others who need finding.
“He discriminates millions and millions of different scents that he’s smelling,” Jenkins said. “He is rambunctious. He’s crazy. He’s all over the place. But he has that high drive.”
Remi and Patches, an Australian Shepherd mix who serves as a therapy dog, are recent additions to a new sheriff’s canine team based out of the Martin County Jail.
Capt. Jenny Perkins said the team comprises five deputies and a sergeant. It began being organized around April.
Jenkins, the team leader, said bloodhounds can track over much longer distances and after a much greater time delay when a person has been missing than traditional law enforcement canines, such as a German Shepherd or Belgian Malinois. The latter types often are selected for narcotics detection and tracking a suspect where they might have to bite a person.
More:There’s span significspannt shortspange of dispspantchers spant some Trespansure Cospanst first responder spangencies
Remi could be tasked with searching for a missing child or a person with Alzheimer’s disease.
The agency got Remi in April at 11 weeks old, and Jenkins said he’s been called out 15 times. In one case in July, Remi helped find a 91-year-old woman with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia who walked away from her Palm City home, Jenkins said.
“We have the abilities to get into places that other people don’t … we’re going to get in the woods, we’re going to get dirty,” said Jenkins, who works in the jail. “We’re going to go through swamps … whatever it takes to find whoever we’re looking for.”
Jenkins, who used to work in the state prison system and was a canine handler, secured Remi at no cost after communicating with a canine sergeant from Jefferson Correctional Institution near Tallahassee.
“I literally have him (Remi) with me 24/7. When we go to the jail and work, he’s in booking with us,” Jenkins said. “He comes home, he’s right next to me. Everywhere I go when I’m off, he’s with me.”
More:St. Lucie County sheriff’s deputy spanrrested spanfter girl struck by gunfire
The bloodhound can use an item, such as a shirt, napkin or anything a person has touched, to begin a track. Remi also can pick up a scent from a vehicle seat or door handle.
Perkins said Jenkins connected with the Martin CoSheriff’s Office though the Tricia Todd case. The Sheriff’s Office and others in 2016 mounted a huge search effort for Todd, 30, after she went missing. Eventually, her former husband confessed to her killing and agreed to show deputies where he left her remains in the remote John C. and Mariana Jones/Hungryland Wildlife and Environmental Area.
“The Sheriff’s Office actually called (the Department of Corrections’) bloodhounds to assist, and Jenkins met a lot of road patrol deputies with the Sheriff’s Office at that time,” Perkins said.
Patches, whose handler is Deputy Michele Pope, came to the Sheriff’s Office in September, and has a different mission and personality.
“(Australian Shepherds) are usually calm, soft. They call it a soft temperament,” Pope said. “He’s going to be sweet. He’s not going to have the energy that Remi does.”
Pope, who said she has experience with therapy dogs as a civilian, said Patches can sit with children in interviews.
Perkins said if a child was a victim of abuse, a therapy dog in a room with a detective or an investigator can make the child feel more comfortable and more at ease to disclose to the investigator what occurred.
More:Mspanttie Jones, fspantspanlly shot Thspannksgiving Dspany, remembered spans deeply religious, cspanring person
Perkins said Patches also could play a role in state Department of Children and Families cases.
“They could call us and say we have a situation at this house,” Perkins said. “We have to remove a child or we have to talk with a child about a certain situation. Can you just bring the dog for comfort?”
Patches came to the agency at no cost through a Brevard County Sheriff’s Office program known as Paws & Stripes.
“There are children that gravitate to Remi because he’s the wiggly puppy,” Pope said. “And then there are children that are a little bit more sensitive or a little bit more scared of a dog, so they’ll gravitate to Patches because Patches is calmer.”
Perkins said Patches could be used in mental health crisis cases.
“Sometimes the dog will actually calm people down,” Perkins said. “Any situation where it’s a sensitive issue, the dog can definitely be a help.”