PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – He's taking the department by storm.
The newest Pittsburgh Police K-9 is astounding his teammates with what he can do. K-9 Cappy was donated by a non-profit in North Carolina after K-9 Loki passed away.
KDKA Legal Editor Julie Grant has been doing a series of reports on the importance of K-9's to public safety and the lack of state funding. She got a first-hand look at why K-9 Cappy is an invaluable addition to the force.
He's a lovable bloodhound rescued in North Carolina. Now, K-9 Cappy is a critical part of the Pittsburgh Police force.
"The things he can do are incredible and we'll never be able to actually utilize all of his talents," said Sgt. Sean Duffy, who supervises the K-9 Unit of the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police.
Sgt. Duffy agreed to do a demonstration.
"We're going to try today to get your scent off of your lipstick or lip gloss and then we're going to lay a trail for the dog and use only that scent we extracted there for him to follow you," said Duffy.
The process began with a machine that captures a person's scent onto a gauze pad. We went to a local cemetery. Sgt. Duffy and Julie walked a mile-long windy path, back and forth between grass and cement.
Cappy's handler, Officer Kevin Merkel, gave K-9 Cappy the scented gauze, and he knew to find Julie. K-9 Cappy led Officer Merkel along Julie's trail, traveling back and forth between the grass and cement, just like Julie did. As Cappy got close, he started to gallop and found Julie in about half the time it took her to walk away.
Cappy received treats and praise for a job well-done. As impressive as it is, K-9 Cappy can do even more challenging tasks.
"He could follow somebody in a car. We can tell if somebody got into a vehicle. Like on a highway, we would be able to track what exit they got off of. He can follow months'-to-years' old trails," said Sgt. Duffy.
"You saw what Cappy can do. It's pretty impressive. And I'm excited to start really getting to work with him," said Officer Kevin Merkel.
The trailing work with Cappy will be a big change of pace for Officer Merkel. The past eight years, he has partnered with K-9 Tonky, doing narcotics detection, patrolling, and criminal apprehensions.
"He's been a good dog, good partner. Cappy's more of a laid-back, easy-going. Let's go do our thing, where he is extremely high-strung, high-drive, high-maintenance. He's a good dog," said Officer Merkel.
One of Tonky's notable cases involved catching a serial armed robber who had victimized at least a dozen students in Oakland and Shadyside.
"Tonky has had more criminal apprehensions than any other dog in the unit. He's going to be missed. It's time for Tonky to relax and enjoy life as a retired dog," said Sgt. Duffy.
While their functions are very different, what Tonky and Cappy have in common is doing what a police officer physically cannot do to keep people in the community safe.
Cappy was donated by Public Safety Dogs Incorporated and was fully-trained. This saved the department upwards of $10,000 and a year of training time. The Pittsburgh Police K-9 Unit always welcomes community support by way of monetary donations, as operations are costly.
If you would like to donate to help support K-9 Cappy and the other K-9 teams, gifts can should be made to the Officer Rocco K-9 Memorial Fund. For more information on how to donate, click here.
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