A 9-year-old boy was missing in Hawthorne.
Santa Ana Police Department’s K9 Rosie and her handler Officer Bob Guidry answered the call to assist Hawthorne Police Department.
As one of only four K9 bloodhounds in Orange County, Rosie is in high demand in the area for human scent tracking.
“They have the strongest sense of smell out of any other dogs,” Guidry says. “The main purpose for getting (Rosie) is for critical missing people.”
By the time Rosie and Guidry were called in, Hawthorne Police Department had already been searching for the child all day. The call was initially for a boy who was thought to have run away from home.
“It got to the point where it’s now 4 o’clock in the morning and 11 hours this kid’s been gone,” Guidry says. “So now it really raises a huge red flag. Has this kid been kidnapped?”
Guidry obtained an item belonging to the child for Rosie to smell – called a scent item – and assist her in tracking. One of the detectives found security camera footage that showed the boy walking in a certain area. Rosie was heading in that direction, confirming that she was on the right track.
According to another video, the child walked back in the same direction, which can present a challenge for scent tracking.
“That’s kind of confusing for the dog,” Guidry says. “We continued at it and kept working it.”
Rosie started to zero in on the scent. But at this point the trail was more than 14 hours old.
“That’s a long time to get a scent,” he says.
They ended up in a homeless encampment, and eventually Rosie lost the scent. But the search continued, and officers did find the boy.
“He was in that general direction where she was going,” Guidry says. “We consider that a find.”
The four-year-old, 92-pound bloodhound has been called out for human scent tracking 61 times in the 2 1/2 years she’s been on duty. Of those, she’s had 41 confirmed trails, meaning Guidry was able to confirm Rosie was on the right track though the missing person or suspect was not directly found by Rosie.
Rosie has found five missing people/suspects, including one call involving a sexual assault against a child who was walking to school. Because there was skin contact, a gauze pad was used to collect some of the scent from the victim’s skin. Rosie was able to smell the victim to eliminate that scent and focus on the suspect’s scent on the gauze.
Guidry and Rosie worked the area. Rosie arrived at a house and jumped on the driveway gate.
“Like she wanted to (get to) the driveway,” he says. “Just as we were about to open the driveway gate, the suspect comes out of the house … so she led us to the right house.”
There was another recent call from Hawthorne Police Department involving a homicide with a possible suspect detained. Rosie tracked the scent near the suspect in custody but headed in a different direction.
“Later I found out that once they reviewed video … it confirmed that the suspect that they had detained was not him and Rosie was correct,” Guidry said.
Rosie also assisted on a call related to a carjacking with a pursuit from Riverside County. Rosie caught the suspect’s scent off of the driver’s seat of the car. She ran into a four-story office building, pulling Guidry along — a sign that she was really onto the scent, he says. She led the way up the stairway, up to the third floor, and ran down the hallway.
“She takes me to two office suites, they’re side-by-side in a corner,” Guidry says. “She’s trying to figure out which one, which one?”
She sniffed each door handle, which was consistent with a suspect trying to find an open door.
“It turns out he was in one of them,” Guidry says.
He has enjoyed seeing Rosie grow and progress since he first got her when she was 4 months old.
“Her drive level when she’s searching, it’s progressed so well,” he says.
Rosie was certified when she was about 1 1/2 through the National Bloodhound Association. She must re-certify every year. Needless to say, training is ongoing.
“Having kids at home helped out because I could just have them go hide in the neighborhood,” he says.
They also meet with her trainer two times a month and on the other weeks, they train with the Orange County Sheriff’s Department’s bloodhounds at their regular training.
“We make it fun for her at work,” Guidry says. “‘I’m gonna play, I’m gonna do a trail.’”
“At the very end of the trail, she’ll get a pile of treats,” he says.
For really good finds, she gets a special burger dog patty.
“She gets a little In-N-Out,” he says.
Besides the important work Rosie does finding missing people and suspects, she also serves another key role in the community.
“Being in this position, for me it’s been awesome in the sense that I’m more approachable by the public because of the dog, and that kind of breaks the ice with the community. And you get to interact with them because of the dog,” Guidry says. “It’s amazing what dogs do.”