If sheer cuteness could fight crime, Fairfax County Police officers would have nothing left to do with the addition of two new, rolly-polly canine recruits.
But in the real world, the Bloodhound pups, Sy and Bolt, can do a lot more than the average dog. Once they're fully trained, the two will be able to track down missing people and find clues—that is, scents.
"They're Bloodhounds—so they have 1,000 years of instinct in following their nose," said Officer Kevin Clarke, Sy's new handler.
While the department's German Shepherds are usually the ones to track down criminals—they are trained to hold on when they find someone—Bloodhounds do not bite. They operate best in missing persons cases, or finding old scents.
The Bloodhounds can track scents that are hours or even days old, Clarke said, and they can also help police confirm or disprove eyewitness accounts.
"While you may not find a person at the end of every trail, each search yields a positive result," said Clarke.
In August, the department bought Bolt and Sy for about $600 each (buying them as puppies saved the FCPD thousands of dollars compared to a fully trained dog). The department assigned Sy to Clarke, and Bolt to Officer Pete Massood. The dogs live and train with the officers. One day, the pups will replace Shnoz and Molly, two Bloodhound sisters from Northern Alabama, and the same bloodline, who joined the FCPD in 2008.
It will take Sy and Bolt about a year to get through training. Right now, they're still learning the basics—like potty training.