The newest member of the Vermont State Police is 9 weeks old, has long, floppy ears, likes to frolic with coworkers, and has a powerful nose for public safety.
The new recruit’s name is Loki, and she is a Plott Hound who police say will specialize in tracking missing people and fugitives from law enforcement. And, Vermont State Police officials say she is the state department’s first hound dog in more than 30 years.
She arrived in her new home in the Green Mountains this past weekend accompanied by her handler, Detective Trooper Chris Hunt, who traveled to Houston, Texas, to pick up Loki from the breeder.
Loki joins a K-9 Unit composed of 16 patrol dogs, four bomb-detection dogs and one arson dog. The patrol dogs are Belgian Malinois, German Shepherds and Dutch Shepherds, and the others are Labrador Retrievers.
Adding a hound dog to the team will help keep the public safe, says Capt. Mike Manley, Vermont State Police special operations commander.
“We are always looking to enhance our capabilities and the service that we provide Vermonters,” Manley says. “The biggest advantage to having a Plott Hound is that they can track old scents. These hounds can track scents that can be nearly a day old. For us this is all about tracking, having the best resource available to track lost and missing persons. You can’t get any better than a hound for tracking.”
Eventually, Loki might also learn the specialized skill of locating deceased individuals, but at first, tracking will be her “bread and butter” and help round out the capabilities of the K-9 unit, Manley says.
“Patrol dogs can do all types — apprehension, tracking, drug work — and our other specialized canines identify explosives and accelerants. Hounds really specialize in tracking. Patrol dogs at best can track scents that are a few hours old. Having Loki as part of the K-9 Unit is sure to increase public safety by giving VSP the best capability to locate missing persons and fugitives.”
For Loki, named after the god in Norse mythology, her next few weeks will be spent acclimating to her new surroundings. She will begin 15 weeks of training in early March with the New Hampshire State Police, an agency that currently has two Plott Hounds on its K-9 detail. Her training will include obedience, tracking based on scents on the ground, evidence recovery, and searching wide areas using scents in the air.
Once training is complete, Loki will be based at the St. Albans Barracks, where Hunt is assigned, but their availability will be utilized statewide, according to police.
If all goes well, Loki might have some company in the future as the State Police considers adding more hounds to the K-9 Unit.