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Chad Ryan | The Journal Gazette
Bella, a 22-month-old bloodhound handled by Sgt. Robert Theurer, is joining the Fort Wayne Police Department's K-9 division. She will work in both the city and Allen County.

Fort Wayne sniffer is a handful of hound

– Fort Wayne Police Sgt. Robert Theurer's new partner is a real "pain in the butt."

She's a bit hyperactive, always running on ahead of him, and has a Miley Cyrus-like tendency to hang her tongue out of her mouth.

It's all good, though, since the new girl in the squad car is Bella – a 22-month-old bloodhound.

The beautiful and personable hound came free to the department from the National Police Bloodhound Association. Bella's passed her test with that organization and will soon be certified by the North American Police Work Dog Association and ready to find lost children, wandering dementia patients or robbers on the lam.

As part of her certification test, the dog followed a series of 12 trails in four days, including one that was at least 24 hours old.

Her curiously small size – at 45 pounds, about half of what female bloodhounds should weigh – is welcomed by Theurer, because she's less of a load to hoist over fences.

Introduced to the city Wednesday morning at a brief news conference at the Public Safety Academy, Bella strained at her leash, lunged at the cameras and snuffled her way across the rubber floor in the gym.

A typical bloodhound, Bella has a natural ability as a "man trailer."

"Her genetics tell her what to do," Theurer said.

And as one of very few police department bloodhounds in northern Indiana, she is a welcome addition to the Fort Wayne Police Department's K-9 division, Chief Rusty York said.

"She's a good resource, not just for FWPD, but other law enforcement agencies in Allen County," York said.

Having already received a handful of calls asking for her services, Theurer is sure they will use her more than he originally expected.

Theurer is a master trainer with the North American Police Work Dog Association and a long-time K-9 officer. In October, his last K-9 partner, Johnny, died from cancer.

Bella will be going on patrol with Theurer.

Bought by her previous owners from a pet store in New Jersey, Bella was donated to the National Police Bloodhound Association after her first family fell onto financial hard times and did not want her to go to a shelter.

As the television camera crews packed up and headed out the door, Bella continued to romp around the gym, her knobby feet struggling to get traction on the floor as she sniffed her way toward the far edge of the room.

"She is into everything," Theurer said.

rgreen@jg.net

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