Local News

Wednesday, Feb 19 2014 05:07 PM

Search and Rescue welcomes bloodhound Savannah to the team

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    By Jason Kotowski/ The Californian

    A bloodhound named Savannah is the newest member of the Kern County Sheriff's Office Search and Rescue. Savannah will be trained to search for missing and injured people who need to be rescued.

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    By Jason Kotowski/ The Californian

    Kern County Sheriff's Office Search and Rescue Capt. Aaron Lynam shares a moment with Savannah. She will live and train with Lynam to learn how to search for missing and injured people.

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  3. 3 of 5

    By Jason Kotowski/ The Californian

    Ten-week-old Savannah, left, the newest member of the Kern County Sheriff's Office Search and Rescue, says hello to veteran Search and Rescue member Freda, who is a German Shepherd.

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    By Jason Kotowski/ The Californian

    Savannah, a bloodhound, is the newest member of the Kern County Sheriff's Office Search and Rescue. She will live and train with Capt. Aaron Lynam, who is holding her.

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  5. 5 of 5

    By Jason Kotowski/ The Californian

    Kern County Sheriff's Office Search and Rescue Capt. Aaron Lynam cradles Savannah, the newest member of the team. The bloodhound will learn to search for missing and injured people.

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BY JASON KOTOWSKI Californian staff writer jkotowski@bakersfield.com

She's newly employed and still learning, but Kern County sheriff's officials are betting Savannah will develop a knack for sniffing out trouble.

After all, it's not often a new hire receives her own press conference, even if the guest of honor would rather roll in the grass than stand at attention.

A lot of responsibility will eventually be placed in the paws of of 10-week-old Savannah, the sheriff's Search and Rescue unit's new bloodhound. She made her first public appearance Wednesday at Sheriff's Office headquarters.

Search and Rescue Capt. Aaron Lynam bought Savannah two weeks ago. She will live and train with Lynam, who expects she'll begin official search and rescue work within 18 months.

"She's getting used to people and socializing with the other dogs," Lynam said.

Lynam had been considering buying a bloodhound. The breed has a good temperament, and its tracking ability is a perfect fit for search and rescue missions.

Bloodhounds can discern human odors even after extended periods of time and over a large distance, including across bodies of water. They were originally bred for hunting deer and wild boar.

Savannah will one day be expected to find missing or injured people in the mountainous or forested areas of Kern County, and sometimes neighboring counties.

She's starting small. For now, Lynam is hiding her toys around the house and watching as she finds them. In the coming months she'll undergo training in basic obedience, tracking and odor recognition.

Sheriff's Lt. Dana Albro said bloodhounds have phenomenal "scent discrimination," making them excellent trackers. Savannah is already using her best asset.

"Everything she does she leads with her nose," Albro said.

The tiny tan pup will one day grow into her wrinkled face and weigh between 80 to 100 pounds. Her ears are already long and droopy, the better to trap scent close to her nose.

The other four-legged search and rescue members seemed content Wednesday to give the rookie the spotlight. German shepherds Freda and Bella, Labrador retriever Copper and Joe the McNab Border collie stayed put while Savannah scampered across the grass, chewing leaves and tugging at her leash.

Savannah has youthful energy, but those other dogs have something she doesn't -- National Association For Search and Rescue certification. She has a lot to prove, not only with her team but in honor of the family tradition of service in law enforcement.

Her grandfather worked on a search and rescue team in Riverside. Those are some big paws to fill.

The sheriff's search and rescue teams are staffed by volunteers. Anyone interested in volunteering can call 391-7475 for more information.

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