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Sue Bush
More articles from Sue Bush

True Blue

By Susan Bush
12:00AM / Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Williamstown police Officer Michael Ziemba and his canine partner, a bloodhound named "Blue." Photo: Sue Bush
Williamstown - The town's new canine sleuth has already gotten her nose into her job.

Blue, a seven-month-old female bloodhound, joined the town police department earlier this month and on April 15, the pup was put into to action.

Town police Officer Michael Ziemba said on Tuesday that Blue was brought to the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute on Friday, after a woman who had taken a walk along the property was believed lost.The woman did find her way to safety, but not before Blue went to work, Ziemba said.

“We did get [Blue] out there, and she picked up a scent,” Ziemba said. “We were hot on the trail.”

Blue came to the department courtesy of Robert Stevens of Douglas, Mass.. Stevens operates a bloodhound breeding facility and donates two dogs to law enforcement agencies on a yearly basis. But it’s not quite a “first come, first serve” process, Ziemba said.

“He has to approve you, which means a face-to-face meeting,” said Ziemba, who met with Stevens and apparently passed Stevens’ muster. “And you do have to agree to join the National Bloodhound Police Association. Blue’s brother was given to the Arizona State Police.”

As Blue’s handler, Ziemba said he must establish a solid bond with the dog. The bonding is progressing very well, and an upcoming week-long training seminar at the Alleghany State Park in Salamanca, N.Y.
should strengthen the team, Ziemba said.

“It’s an intense training,” Ziemba said.

The seminar is sponsored by the NBPA, and is hosted by the Cattaraugus County Sheriff’s Office. Training will include daytime and nighttime field work, as well as classroom sessions for new bloodhound handlers.

Blue and Ziemba are getting acquainted on a daily basis. The golden-colored dog lives in Adams with Ziemba and his beagles Bonnie and Katahdin. Veterinary care shouldn’t be an issue; Ziemba’s girlfriend is veterinarian Joanne Johnson , who works at the Greylock Animal Hospital. The veterinary facility has agreed to provide Blue’s life-long health care at cost, and the Hills pet food company has agreed to provide a life-long supply dog food.

“The bonding process is an on-going, constant thing,” Ziemba said. “The training has to be continuous, you have to keep working with them [the dogs]. It’s a huge commitment but I’m fine with it. It’s what I want to do.”

Most bloodhounds possess an easygoing temperament, which, coupled with their keen tracking abilities, make them superb canines for searches, Ziemba said. The ability to catch a scent quickly and accurately saves time, which benefits lost-person searches as well as tracking people who may be evading law enforcement officials.

“They are the best tracking dogs in the world,” Ziemba said.
Blue will be available to assist other police agencies with searches and tracking situations, Ziemba said.

A request to meet Blue was granted, and while the dog wasn’t able to articulate verbally, a wagging tail, an eager, friendly demeanor and quick responses to Ziemba’s calls would indicate a happy dog. Ziemba said that Blue is acclimating herself to the police station, police officers, and numerous community residents. She paid a recent visit to the Pine Cobble School, where she found many adoring fans, he said.

“She’s doing great,” he said. “I’m getting her accustomed to the station and the people. She loves riding in cars. She’s a good dog and we’re all so glad to have her. There aren’t many small departments with bloodhounds and Blue is a real asset. We’re lucky to have her.”
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