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The Jefferson Correctional Institute visited Monticello on Tuesday, October 2 for some training exercises with a few of the JCI's tracking bloodhounds.
K9s Maybell and Tater, along with their JCI handlers, set up in the empty lot next to the Monticello-Jefferson Chamber of Commerce (off of W. Washington St.) to perform human-scent training exercises for the bloodhounds.
JCI's Sgt. McDonald, one of the K9 handlers, says that the JCI Bloodhounds are specially trained to track individuals, whether that means a lost or missing person or an escaped felon.
“The more we know the town, the better off we will be,” says Sgt. McDonald.
When the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office or Monticello Police Department need human-tracking assistance, the JCI tracking bloodhounds are willing to assist, and being able to navigate the streets and backroads of Monticello are just as important for the handlers as being able to differentiate between the complex scents is for the dogs.
As the weather continues to cool down, Sgt. McDonald says that JCI will be out a lot more and training in town.
During the warmer months of summer and spring, JCI tends to hold their training sessions with the dogs in the forests of Jefferson County, and away from the heat-soaked pavement and asphalt of town, but during the cooler months of the year, they will be a more visible presence in town as they train.
“It's cooled off a little bit, so we'll be out a lot more,” Sgt. McDonald says.
Bloodhound Maybell is four months, and quickly catching on to her training.
“She's doing great for only being four months old,” said Sgt. McDonald.
Bloodhound Tater was another one of the dogs that accompanied the JCI K9 handlers during their training in Monticello on Oct. 2; Tater was named in honor of Jefferson County and Leon County's fallen Deputy Chris Smith, who was nicknamed 'Tater' by his fellow officers.
All the bloodhounds who work at the Jefferson Correctional Institute are bred in-house.
Whether through partnerships with other correctional institutions or from their own bloodhound breeding stock, every tracking bloodhound employed at JCI has a distinct pedigree of well-trained bloodhounds in their blood line.
Bloodhound Tater's mother is another JCI dog, and also accompanied Sgt. McDonald, Sgt. Roe and Officer Sheldon during their October 2 training.