- Associated Press - Saturday, December 26, 2015

BROOKHAVEN, Miss. (AP) - A new service could soon join Lincoln County’s law enforcement in the form of a tracking dog, a K9 officer specializing in sniffing out lost or atlarge individuals.

Lincoln County Constable Post 1 Kelly Porter told the Board of Supervisors in its meeting Monday about a K9training organization that has agreed to donate an animal and training valued at $20,000.

The Daily Leader reports (https://bit.ly/1YGxkHH) the dog would come from a nationally recognized organization called Universal K9 in San Antonio, Texas, which rescues dogs on the brink of being euthanized and trains them to be police K9 officers.

“This agency has agreed to donate an animal that they have valued at $16,000 plus the training they have valued at $4,000,” Porter told the board. “I’d be required to go to San Antonio for a twoweek handler’s and animals course, bring the dog back and then, of course, have to train with it.”

Porter said he’d been searching for and talking to the sheriff about a tracking dog for the county and applied for the program about six months ago.

The board expressed support for the endeavor. Lincoln County had one such animal, but he died of cancer three years ago and wasn’t replaced.

Porter asked about the legality of the county assisting with veterinary bills or other expenses for the animal if it was technically privately owned.

“If I have to sign a contract with the county saying I would provide however many years of service for however many years the animal and myself are able to do so, I will,” Porter said. “The housing and feeding I can handle but just if there were medical issues that came up for the animal that maybe I couldn’t cover, I wondered if the county could help out with it.”

County Attorney Bob Allen said he would look into what arrangement could be made.

“It’s too good a deal not to figure out some way to do it,” Allen said.

Sheriff Steve Rushing said whatever his office could do to facilitate this, it would, adding that he thought it was a good idea.

County Administrator David Fields spoke about the importance of such animals from personal experience.

“Back in 2010, my daughter walked away, followed our dog away from our house, and we had all of Macedonia Road searching for her,” Fields said. “And I had called Steve (Rushing) and Clifford (Galey), and we had the dog at that time I think. Fortunately we found her over on James Drive before they got there but - special needs kids can walk away from the house in a heartbeat, trust me I know.”

With Lincoln County’s abundance of rural areas, any sort of missing person search or criminal manhunt is likely to turn into a sweep of the woods.

“With the rural areas that we have, usually we have children and elderly adults that go missing in the woods that we have to try and find,” Porter said. “And currently if we have a situation like that we have to call other counties in for assistance trying to locate them.”

The closest K9 like the one Porter is lined up to receive is in Pike County.

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Information from: The Daily Leader, https://www.dailyleader.com

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