January 5, 2011
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Contact: Public Affairs Office
Live Oak -- Florida Department of Corrections canine tracking teams successfully located a missing child on January 3, 2011, at 3:30 pm in Live Oak.
The Suwannee County Sheriff’s Office requested assistance from Canine Tracking Teams from Suwannee Correctional Institution and Hamilton Correctional Institution. The officers involved in finding the missing 11 year old child were Sergeant John Morris, Sergeant Joey Hamm, Correctional Officer Jeremiah Carter, Correctional Officer Maurice Burnham, Correctional Officer Steve Folsom, Correctional Officer James Turner and Correctional Officer William Billingsley.
Returning to their institutions after a job well done, it wasn’t long before the K-9 Teams were back in action, as the child slipped out of the sight of his parents around 5:50 pm and fled again. The child was once again located by the canine teams and turned over to the Suwannee County Sheriff’s Office.
Suwannee Correctional Institution Warden Mark Redd had these comments about the actions of the K-9 team, “Department of Corrections staff is committed to ensuring the safety and well being of Florida’s citizens. Our Emergency Response Canine Teams train hard and work closely with other law enforcement agencies when called upon to assist. We are extremely proud of our Canine Teams for their selfless, dedicated service. ”
There are 36 canine teams located at prisons throughout Florida, who are on call 24 hours a day to respond to local law enforcements’ requests for assistance in locating individuals. Last year alone, the DC’s bloodhounds were called to assist sheriff’s offices, police departments, the Florida Highway Patrol and others in need 611 times – averaging close to two calls per day.
The original purpose of the DC’s Canine Tracking Teams was to track (via scent) escaped inmates, but with fewer and fewer escapes occurring (there have been no escapes from a secure perimeter since 2006) their services are now being used more often by local law enforcement who don’t have K-9 units of their own, or who need additional K-9s to assist their teams. The dogs live in kennels on the prison grounds, and most are bloodhounds except for a few beagles. The dogs don’t attack when they find their quarry, (they bounce excitedly instead), which is why many law enforcement agencies prefer DC tracking units to find their missing and runaway children and the elderly.