Man's best friend proves helpful in tracking

Thursday, October 7, 2004

Dogs have long been called man's best friend. Otis, a 2-1/2 year old red bone blood hound, belonging to Leachville Police Officer Keith Evans, is not only a friend, but recently proved to be an asset to the law enforcement agencies as he tracked a suspect for several miles.

Evans said he had always wanted a hound dog and when an offer to donate the dog to the city came up, he was more than happy to assume the duties of taking care of Otis.

"We were sending our drug dog, Finder, to school to be trained and Chief Ken Womack found out that Otis had been given to Greg Druman, owner of Durham Hauls working dogs out of Little Rock," Evans said.

Arrangements were made and Otis was donated to the city of Leachville. He has been in Evans' care for a year. The city's drug dog, Finder, was also donated to the city by Larry Towell.

Evans does continuing training with Otis and says the dog does very well. In addition to being a good tracker, he is very gentle with people and especially children. Evans' son, eight month old Trevor, and Otis have become close friends.

Evans lays a track with his son's clothing and a spray trail by soaking Trevor's clothes in water and at the end of the trail he leaves the clothes. Community service workers also help in the training by hiding and letting Otis track them.

He has proven to be very good during the practice sessions and recently had the opportunity to go on a real manhunt.

Evans said he was out of town in August when Chief Womack took Otis to assist the Monette and Dunklin County law enforcement agencies.

The call came in that Monette Patrolman Kevin Holt had pulled over a Cardwell resident that had hopped back in his car and drove off with his family inside. The suspect headed north into Missouri as police officers and deputies gave chase. The driver struck a Cardwell police car. The driver then fled on foot leaving his wife and son in his abandoned vehicle.

"Chief Womack took Otis to the scene and he followed the trail for several miles near the house where he was hiding," Evans said.

The suspect was arrested later that night at his home, Evans said.

No one was injured in the incident. The suspect was charged in Missouri with resisting arrest and endangering the welfare of a child.

"Tracking is natural for blood hounds," Evans said. "We will take Otis anywhere he is needed and assist anyone. If we are needed to help locate lost children or even adults, we will make Otis available."

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