By Jesse Mast
In addition to all its usual wildlife, for a short time Allegany State Park will be visited by police bloodhounds, as the National Police Bloodhound Association holds its spring training seminar May 3–10.
The National Police Bloodhound Association (NPBA) is an organization that provides information pertaining to the use of bloodhounds in law enforcement. The weeklong spring training seminar is an opportunity for law enforcement personnel to receive instruction and certification in using bloodhounds for police work. The event is hosted by the Cattaraugus County Sheriff’s Office and has been held in Cattaraugus County for more than a decade.
The seminar is open to law enforcement personnel who are members of the NPBA. In past years, the event has had participants from all over the country. According to the NPBA’s website, the event has been so successful that the seminar has had to be limited to 85 attendees.
The seminar will consist of both classroom training and fieldwork, in which bloodhounds and their handlers will work through various scenarios they may encounter on the job.
Bloodhounds are favored by police for their excellent tracking ability, according to Officer Angela Alexander of the Murfreesboro Police Department in Tennessee, who is also the secretary of the NPBA. “A bloodhound is a single-purpose dog,” Alexander said.
That purpose is following scent trails, and for that matter, bloodhounds serve this purpose very well. While other breeds, such as German shepherds, are used as patrol dogs, bloodhounds are especially adept at trailing missing persons and criminal suspects.
As an example of the breed’s man-trailing abilities, Alexander said that if two suspects run out of a car, a bloodhound can identify one of the suspects’ scent from a car seat. Once the bloodhound knows the scent, it will follow the trail while ignoring all other scents.
Although the dog usually needs to stay close to a trail, if the wind conditions are right, it may pick up a strong scent from a considerable distance. And while it is best for a trail to be fresh, Alexander said a bloodhound may even follow a trail that is a few days old.
According to its website, the NPBA began in 1962 as the Eastern Police Bloodhound Association, then in 1966 changed to its current name as increasing membership comprised a more widespread constituency.
“We have close to 250 members,” said Alexander.
The spring seminar at Allegany State Park is one of two seminars the NPBA holds annually, with the other seminar taking place during the winter in Greensboro, N.C.