Three Winnebago County canines are using their scent to sniff out crime

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ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) -- A bloodhound's nose can track a scent that is days old, rained on, or contaminated, for miles on end.

"There is no breed that is better at trailing than a bloodhound,” says Sgt. Nick Cunnigham.

That is why the Winnebago County Sheriff's Office hired Sadie, Roxy and Nancy Drew onto their K-9 Unit.

"As soon as you pull them out of the truck and pull the harness out, they start jumping around and you can see the big smile on their face. They live to work," says Cunningham.

Though they are known for their noses, they still rigorously train for their job.

"Its repetition and consistency that keeps the dog on it's 'A' game," says K-9 handler Stan Metzler.

Thursday they performed a practice trail.

"We used one of our officer's handguns as a scent article," says Cunnigham.

They then use a device called a seeker that extracts the smell from the object and draws it onto a gauze pad.

"That gauze pad is placed inside of an evidence-grade jar. That's what we use to scent the dog with," says Cunnigham.

After they get the go ahead, the hounds locate the scent and track it to the end.

Though they are efficient workers, the dogs are more than just colleagues to their owners.

"They go to work with their handler; they come home with their handler. 24 hours a day, seven days a week, that dog is with that handler,” says Cunningham. “They do develop a pretty tight bond that will be that way the entire span of the dog’s life."

Sadie, Roxy, and Nancy Drew were all brought to the sheriff’s office through donations. The K-9 Unit says they are grateful that no tax-payer dollar was spent on the bloodhound’s purchase or their ongoing living expenses.