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Sergeant hopes to start K-9 search-and-rescue team

Steve McCarty is offering his services as a private citizen and is seeking others who want to join him in forming the team.

Steve McCarty is offering his services as a private citizen and is seeking others who want to join him in forming the team.

January 07, 2003|by MARLO BARNHART

marlob@herald-mail.com

HAGERSTOWN - With the recent acquisition of a young bloodhound, Steve McCarty's dreams of starting a volunteer K-9 search-and-rescue team in the four-state area are closer to coming true.

"Right now, I'm a team of one," said the Maryland State Police sergeant who is offering his services as a private citizen wherever needed. He is actively seeking others who want to join him in that endeavor.

In addition to enjoying his work with dogs, McCarty has another reason for wanting to start a K-9 search-and-rescue team.

"My late grandmother had Alzheimer's disease and sometimes she'd wander off," McCarty said.

In his years with the state police, McCarty said he has had calls for such searches and they can be very difficult for loved ones.

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No stranger to working with dogs, McCarty was a K-9 trooper for 61/2 years before he was promoted to sergeant five years ago.

"I had Labrador retrievers working as drug dogs and German shepherds as general patrol dogs," McCarty said. "But I've never worked with bloodhounds before."

McCarty began searching for a suitable young bloodhound early last year.

"Then I heard that someone had dropped off four mixed bloodhounds at the Frederick County Humane Society and that's when I got Jessie," McCarty said.

Because he is a volunteer, McCarty isn't locked into any jurisdiction.

"I'm not affiliated with the state police in this endeavor," he said. "I just want to help where I can."

So far he has had three calls but in each case, the person was found before McCarty and Jessie could mobilize.

"It only takes us about 15 minutes to respond. I have a portable cage I can put right in the back of my truck and we're off," McCarty said.

A 3-year-old, Jessie lives with McCarty, his family and other dogs and cats in Hagerstown. McCarty's wife, Melanie, is a nurse and they have two sons, Rhett, a freshman at Coastal Carolina University, and Cade, a student at Springfield Middle School.

McCarty also is a lay pastor at St. Thomas Episcopal Church in Hancock.

"I've been involved in the ministry for about 10 years and am working toward a master of theology degree," McCarty said.

His goal of becoming an ordained deacon will include an upcoming 12-week internship at St. Luke's Episcopal Church in Brownsville.

Business cards carry a drawing of a bloodhound under the heading Western Maryland K-9 Search and Rescue. The card specifically mentions Alzheimer's/nursing home walk-offs, missing children and all kinds of air-scent tracking and trailing.

"Tracking is a big game for Jessie," McCarty said. "He's a natural because he is 90 percent bloodhound and the rest coonhound."

There is little training involved in teaching a bloodhound to track since that is their nature, as opposed to teaching a dog to sniff drugs or explosives, McCarty said.

Anyone interested in contacting McCarty about a search/rescue can call 301-991-4293.

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