National K-9 seminar held at Loucon

By Matt Lasley - [email protected]

By Matt Lasley

[email protected]

K-9 Search and Rescue teams from all across the country descended upon Grayson County’s Camp Loucon this past weekend to participate in an annual four-day training seminar.

The Kentucky Scent, Tracking, Air and Rescue (KSTAR) seminar was coordinated and hosted at Camp Loucon by Bluegrass Bloodhounds, LLC, a local K-9 service located in Leitchfield.

Judy Braun, of Bluegrass Bloodhounds, partnered with Toni Goodman, of Kentucky Bloodhound Search and Rescue, based in Hardin County, to host the 2017 KSTAR.

KSTAR was offered by invitation only to search and rescue teams, corrections officers, law enforcement, and fire departments, and hosted participants from several other states, such as Michigan, Oklahoma, Tennessee, and Illinois, in addition to Kentucky teams.

Goodman said she and Braun sought to coordinate the KSTAR training in Kentucky because there are few K-9 training opportunities in the state. KSTAR brought several instructors from out of state to teach about 27 students.

Braun said by keeping the class size to a minimum, it allows for a more personal, hands-on approach to the training.

Some of the training exercises included having a Department of Corrections Officer from the Bell County Forestry Camp, Keith Fuson, hide in a tree while the bloodhounds sniffed him out; and firing a fresh bullet into a paper target, using a cotton swab to swab the scent, and giving the dogs the scent to sniff out the person who fired the gun.

“We try to train for real world scenarios,” said Braun.

Fuson said such training is very important because it affords K-9 workers the opportunity to see how their dogs behave in certain situations.

This is imperative because K-9’s do not bark or bawl while working, they just track, so K-9 workers must be able to recognize their dogs’ body language, Fuson said.

Fuson said his department uses K-9’s primarily to track inmates who escape, and, since the dogs have been used as a deterrent, Bell County Forestry Camp has seen a significant decrease in escape attempts.

“These animals are amazing,” Goodman said.

Tony Bullock, with the Rockcastle County Sheriff’s Office, whose first K-9 puppy was donated last year by the ALIE Foundation, said he appreciates events such as KSTAR because it offers the opportunity to learn from other search and rescue workers.

Goodman said another benefit is that the event also serves as a networking opportunity for K-9 Search and Rescue teams throughout the state, providing assurance that, no matter what part of the state from which a call originates, a team can be contacted to respond.

KSTAR coordinators hope to bring the annual training seminar back to Camp Loucon again next year.

Reach Matt Lasley at 270-259-9622, ext. 2015.

By Matt Lasley

[email protected]

Reach Matt Lasley at 270-259-9622, ext. 2015.

Reach Matt Lasley at 270-259-9622, ext. 2015.

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