Ain’t nothing but a hound dog: RCSO enlists new 4-legged officer

Published 12:10 am Wednesday, June 14, 2023

SALISBURY — When most people think K-9 units, a German Shepherd likely comes to mind, but it turns out that when it comes to finding a missing person, there’s no better dog than a bloodhound.

The Rowan County Sheriff’s Office is welcoming Magnolia to the ranks. The bloodhound was training at Highland Canine Training, where the sheriff’s office obtains most of its K9 units.

Rowan County Capt. David Earnhardt indicated that Magnolia is a perfect fit for a recently formed task force that addresses specific emergencies.

“The county just started a task force … for any type of mass casualty type event,” Earnhardt said. “We would also do search and rescue for missing people or people who have wandered off, perhaps with neurological disorders. That was the push behind the bloodhound.”

Earnhardt indicated that a bloodhound’s friendly and approachable appearance makes it better suited for engaging missing people like children.

“We take one of our dogs that is a Malinois or a (German) Shepherd to a 3-year-old, it scares them,” Earnhardt said. “Not that (a Malinois or German Shepherd is) going to be mean to them, but you see a floppy-eared bloodhound, it’s different.

“That was the initial thought process behind having it and being able to assist. It can do tracking and trailing on suspects as well, but it was mainly bought for missing persons, walkways, wanderers and that sort of thing.”

Dogs from Highland Canine Training usually run about $10,000, but Earnhardt said they were getting Magnolia for around $8,000.

Whereas the sheriff’s office used to get dogs and train them from pups, they have been going the trained route of late and have purchased numerous dogs from Highland.

“The person bringing it today has been training (Magnolia) since she was 12 weeks old,” Earnhardt said. “We used to get them as puppies and train them ourselves, which was a headache.”

On Friday, Rowan County Sheriff’s Benevolent Fund President Joshua Simmons was among the organizers of a breakfast sandwich and hamburger fundraiser near the Rowan County Magistrate’s Office.

“All the money is going to the purchase of a new K9 for the sheriff’s office and for the necessary equipment,” Simmons said. “You need everything they use for outfitting these dogs. I believe they have some vests, food, medical care, also to upfit a vehicle with the cage and air conditioning, and the security systems and alert systems that go in these canine vehicles to keep the dogs from overheating.”

Simmons’ son, Gabriel, was at the fundraiser to assist with sales, and Jason Smith, the owner of the Hotdog Shack in Granite Quarry, lent a hand flipping the burgers.