BOOKS: Bloodhound in Blue: The True Tales of Police Dog JJ and His Two-Legged Partner
From ANIMAL PEOPLE, July-August 2013:
Bloodhound in Blue: The True Tales of Police Dog JJ and His Two-Legged Partner by Adam David Russ Lyons Press (246 Goose Lane, Guilford, CT 06437), 2013. 273 pages, hardcover. $24.95.
Bloodhound in Blue is an action book about Salt Lake City police officer Michael Serio and his canine partner JJ, a bloodhound who by mid-career was acclaimed as the best search-dog the Salt Lake City police had ever used.
Police work attracted Serio for several reasons. A childhood friend’s father was an FBI agent. Serio’s dad served in the military. Serio’s brother was a police officer in another state. But Serio did not set out to become a K-9 officer. JJ was acquired as a family pet. But according to Serio, “JJ kept showing off,” demonstrating his remarkable ability to pick up and follow scents. Eventually Serio began to train JJ as a tracking dog on his own time.
Debuting in police work in September 1999, JJ within his first few weeks on the job helped to capture a drunken alleged car-jacker who had crashed the car. A woman who was allegedly injured in the incident turned out to be the alleged perpetrator’s girlfriend, who made up the car-jacking story in a misguided attempt to help the drunk escape.
JJ’s most famous case was one he did not help to solve, through no fault of his own: the 2002 kidnapping of Elizabeth Smart, 14, by David Brian Mitchell, who had a history of both animal abuse and violence against women and children. JJ was called off the search when police decided he was not following a trail. When rescued in 2003, Smart confirmed that she had heard JJ following her as Mitchell forced her into the mountains. Mitchell is now serving life in prison.
Altogether, in nine years of service, JJ helped to catch nearly 300 criminal suspects in the Salt Lake City area. In addition to his official police work, JJ visited local schools and the Salt Lake City Shriner’s Hospital for Children.
Both the Salt Lake Tribune and the Deseret News prominently reported about JJ’s year-long struggle in 2007-2008 against a malignant melanoma of the mouth. Treatments in New York City funded by public donations failed to save JJ, who died in his sleep at age 10. Serio and JJ posthumously shared the Salt Lake City police chief’s 27th annual officer-of-the-year award. ––Debra J. White