The tracking skills of 'Nutmeg'

FRANKFORD. Sussex County senior citizens enjoyed a K-9 demonstration and a Q and A session with the Sussex County Sheriff on Monday.

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  • Sheriff Strada, Nutmeg and Nutmeg's handler, Detective Catherine Young. (Photos by Laurie Gordon)

  • Sheriff Strada and the onlookers watch Nutmeg track down her "suspect" Security Guard Ken Armstrong.

  • Nutmeg and Detective Catherine Young ready to track.

By Laurie Gordon

The K-9 demonstration that was to highlight the bi-monthly meeting of the Sussex County Sheriff's Senior Citizens on Monday had to be put on hold. Nutmeg, the newly certified bloodhound, was she was needed on a case about an hour prior to the scheduled demonstration. While the audience waited in the Emergency Operations Center, Sheriff Mike Strada, Detective Chris Grogan, and Security Guard Ken Armstrong conducted a Question and Answer session.

The Sheriff spoke about the different tasks a bloodhound can perform compared to the department's two German Shephards and how with a simple item that was on a suspect, or that was touched by a suspect, Nutmeg can track him or her down.

The Sheriff's Department does not use "biting dogs."

“The cost for them is about $10,000 and we feel neither the cost nor having biting dogs is necessary,” Strada said.

Nutmeg has been at the department for about a year, and after Detective Catherine Young expressed interested in training Nutmeg, Detective Young received the requested assignment.

Strada explained that it is a 24-hour job. Nutmeg lives with Young and they are always together, on the job or not.

While Nutmeg finished up her case, the Sheriff answered, in detail, a host of questions having to do with various aspects of the county including 911 calls, jail and security.

Grogan addressed crime concerns in the county citing pick-pocketing at area businesses, including restaurants.

“It's usually around lunch time,” he said. “They have Wi-Fi and when people go up to get their orders, they get sloppy and leave a bag on the chair or table.”

He said one of the biggest crimes he's seeing these days are romance crimes.

“People want to meet Clark Gable and he's not out there,” Grogan said. “Usually it's someone from a little office overseas convincing a person to send them money. They're no Clark Gable. He or she is a scam artist. I've seen people lose six figures, and this type of crime seems to be on the rise.”

Armstrong regaled the crowd about thieves posed as landscapers aiming to gain access to people's homes and how they were caught.

Just before Nutmeg's entrance, a member of the seniors group said she didn't have a question but a thank you for the time she called 911, when thinking she might be experiencing a medical issue, in the middle of a snowstorm.

“One guy started shoveling from the house and another from the road to make a path so I could get out to the ambulance,” she said.

Then Nutmeg entered the room.

“Scent isn't the only thing behind her ability to track,” she said. “Her droopy ears and wrinkly skin help collect smells and sweep them toward her nose. “We're always together,” she said. “She sleeps at a crate in my house and we go to work together.”

Outside, Nutmeg was put in her harness and Young donned her gloves. She then presented the bloodhound with an article that Armstrong had held. He had gone out a few minutes earlier and hidden behind some trees in the extensive field.

In a split second after smelling, Nutmeg was on his trail and found him in no time.

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