WATERBURY, Vt. — The newest member of the Vermont State Police will be making her public debut on Friday at the State House in Montpelier.
Ten-week-old Loki, a Plott hound, will specialize in tracking missing people and fugitives from the law. She is the state police's first hound dog in more than 30 years.
She arrived in her new home in the Green Mountains last week accompanied by her handler, Detective Trooper Chris Hunt, who traveled to Houston, Texas, to pick up Loki from the breeder.
State police say Loki has long, floppy ears and likes frolic with co-worker but also has a "powerful nose for public safety."
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.
Her breed, Plott hound, is descended from German Hanoverian hounds brought to the United States by Johannes Plott in 1750. They originally were used for tracking big game and are considered energetic, athletic and intelligent. They are the official state dog for North Carolina, where they were first bred.
Adding a hound dog to the team will help keep the public safe, said Capt. Mike Manley, special operations commander.
"We are always looking to enhance our capabilities and the service that we provide Vermonters," Manley said. "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, he said
"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," said Manley. "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. They will be available to respond statewide. 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.
Visitors will be able greet and pet Loki — subject to her tolerance for excitement — in the Cedar Creek Room at the State House on Friday, Feb. 7, from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., and again on Tuesday, Feb. 11, from 4 to 6 p.m. at the front sally port at the Vermont State Police Barracks, 2777 St. George Road, Williston.
POWNAL, Vt. — A local man was arrested Monday morning after an altercation at the wastewater treatment plant on Dean Road.
Eric Harris, 34, of Pownal is charged with simple assault, aggravated disorderly conduct and unlawful mischief.
According to a release by State Trooper Shawn Sommers, troopers from the Shaftsbury barracks responded to the plant at about 9:58 a.m. on Monday for a report of an "out of control" man. Harris is alleged to have struck an employee of the treatment facility causing pain. Further investigation, according to the report, revealed that Harris had allegedly caused damage to a fence at the main entrance to the facility.
The release did not state what may have caused the altercation or the name of the alleged victim.
Harris was taken to the barracks for processing and was later released on conditions to appear in Vermont Superior Court's Criminal Division in Bennington on April 29.
BENNINGTON, Vt. — A Pownal man is being charged with calling in a bomb threat that caused Southwestern Vermont Medical Center's Pownal campus to declare a lockdown last week.
Allen L. Spaulding, 33, of Route 7 was charged with false public alarm violation and ordered to appear in Superior Court's Criminal Division on Oct. 1.
Spaulding is accused of making a threatening call via a cell phone on Aug. 14 at about 9:24 a.m. to the facility on Route 7 just north of the Massachusetts line. According to State Trooper Shawn Sommers, Spaulding was "located at a later date" and issued the citation to appear in court.
STAMFORD, Vt. — A local woman avoided injury when her Chrysler Town and Country crashed into a tree on Saturday morning shortly before 11.
Karen Wheeler, 57, of Readsboro was southbound on Route 100 in her 2005 van when she experienced a mechanical malfunction with her steering wheel, according to State Trooper Lauren Ronan. The van left the highway near Lincoln Road, collided with a guardrail and then a tree.
There was extensive damage to the guardrail and vehicle, which is considered totaled. Wheeler was wearing a seat belt and no one was injured in the crash. The conditions were dry and sunny.
A second accident later that day in Pownal involved two motor vehicles but no one was hurt in that collision either.
Tiffany Rounds, 28, of Pownal was southbound on Strohmaier Road when she crashed into the rear end of a parked farm vehicle, said Trooper Ronan. The accident occurred around 2:11 in the afternoon. Conditions were dry and sunny; the road is gravel.
The 2010 Subaru Legacy incurred extensive front-end damage. The unattended 1990 International farm truck had minor damage to rear bumper.
Rounds said she was distracted by her children, who were located in the back seat of the vehicle. All of the occupants were evaluated by Pownal Rescue at the scene; no injuries were sustained in the crash.
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