The LaPorte County coroner’s office is acquiring a dog to track the location of bodies and even body parts.
In addition to homicide cases, Coroner Bob Cutler said the dog will be useful in finding someone dead or alive after they’ve wandered from a nursing home or other location.
Cutler said there are no cadaver dogs in the area. He offered to share use of the dog with coroners in Porter, Lake, Starke and St. Joseph counties, and all seemed very receptive.
“This is something no one has in this part of the state,” he said.
The LaPorte County Commissioners this week gave permission for Cutler to secure the animal. It’s coming at no cost from Bob Lewis, a former K-9 reserve officer for the LaPorte County Sheriff’s Office involved in training dogs for law enforcement agencies nationwide.
Cutler said Lewis asked him a few months ago if he had interest in a cadaver dog that he would train and provide for at no cost to the county.
The dog, a seven-month-old Dutch malinois, will be kept by Lewis at his LaPorte-area training facility, but made available whenever called upon, Cutler said.
Lewis said the dog will be capable of tracking the deceased by detecting the smell of decomposition. The animal will also be skilled in locating living people.
Lewis, a lifelong resident of LaPorte, said food for the dog was donated to him by a pet store chain.
“I’m a busy person, but I still have time for my county,” Lewis said.
Cutler said the dog should be ready to serve by summer.
“This dog will also be able to uncover body parts if buried or laying out in a woods,” Cutler said.
LaPorte County police Capt. Derek Allen said he doesn’t anticipate his office using the dog all that often. Cases matching the dog’s abilities are limited, but it’s good to have one if the need arises. Currently, he said, the K-9s on the force are trained in uncovering drugs and locating by scent and ground disruption “bad guys.”