How bloodhounds assist in search for escaped convicts

RENSSELAER, N.Y. (NEWS10) – A local expert spoke to our sister station NEWS10 Thursday how bloodhounds and search dogs are being used during the search for two escaped convicts in upstate New York.

A bloodhound handler with a local volunteer search and rescue group said bloodhounds are able to track a scent for days. He said the best time to track is at night, but weather plays an important role, too.

At the front of the search for two convicted murderers that escaped from the Clinton Correctional Facility are tracking dogs – some of them bloodhounds. According to sources, the bloodhounds picked up the scent of the inmates not far from the prison.

James Pendolino is a volunteer handler with Rensselaer County Search and Rescue. He said authorities are using the best dogs for the job.

“They never make a sound on trail,” he said. “That’s why you can use them from criminal work.”

He said bloodhounds will be able to find the escaped inmates.

“All this loose skin, here, helps hold the scent,” he explained.

His 2-year-old bloodhound, Ginney, gave a demonstration. She had to find NEWS10 ABC reporter Lindsay Nielsen.

“Once the harness is on and I give her the command find, she goes to work,” Pendolino said.

Then she smells a scent article: Nielsen’s hair comb. It didn’t take long.

But the manhunt isn’t as easy. The weather could quickly derail the search.

“The scent can last,” Pendolino said. “We’ve been successful at 10 days. It shouldn’t be too hard for them to do what they’re doing as long as they don’t get a torrential rain.”

Pendolino has been searching with his hounds for more than 30 years.

“Scent is like your fingerprint,” he said. “Everybody’s is different.”

Pendolino said he believes one dog is given the scent of one inmate, and a different dog is given the scent of the other inmate. Or one has the scent of one inmate, and authorities are hoping the pair are still together.

“You can take one hound and go,” he said. “When that one gets tired you can start and send another hound.”

Pendolino said the dogs wouldn’t need to smell the scent article again for some time.

“Twenty-four hours,” he said. “They got the right dogs. Hopefully, they have a good scent article.”

When bloodhounds find someone, they will most likely lick the person. It’s up to the rest of the search team, law enforcement, and possibly other dogs to detain the inmates.

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