Last month, the Forest Preserves of Cook County Police Department welcomed two bloodhounds—a breed that is well known for their amazing tracking ability and non-aggressive behavior—who will serve as search and rescue canine officers. In the Forest Preserves’ nearly 70,000 acres, the canine officers will provide critical assistance in searches for missing or lost visitors. Additionally, Forest Preserves Police canine officers may be called upon to assist other police agencies with search and rescue situations.
Forest Preserves Police canines and their handlers undergo a 10-week training programing, concluding with certification by the Illinois Law Enforcement Training and Standards Board as search and rescue dogs. Each canine and their handler receive on-going monthly training throughout their careers, as well as recertification tests. Training includes exposing the canines to a variety of environments–forests, residential neighborhoods, shopping malls and more–so the canine officers are familiar with wherever the search trail takes them.
Featured in the photo is Officer Hettiger with canine Cook, named for Cook County; Forest Preserves Police Chief Bush; and Officer Ennis with canine Bonnie, named for Bonnie Brae, the street that leads to the Forest Preserves General Headquarters. The dogs were purchased with funds made available through the Cook County Department of Emergency Management and Regional Security’s federal Edward Byrne Justice Assistance Grant program.