BITTINGER (AP) -- Scott Brothers pushed the wrinkled face of his bloodhound to the ground to sniff human scent off a cigarette dropped by a suspected Peeping Tom.
"Go find him, buddy," shouted Mr. Brothers, a bloodhound handler and special deputy from Juniata County, Pa.
Nose to the ground, the black-and-tan bloodhound began romping through the woods of Garrett County's Deep Creek Lake State Park so fast that Mr. Brothers had to run to keep up. His tugs on a 30-foot leash went unnoticed by the dog that was hot on the trail of the "assailant" -- who was really Kent Robey, a police bloodhound handler from Campbell County, Va.
Mr. Robey and Mr. Brothers were among 80 police dog handlers with 60 bloodhounds who were in this Western Maryland town yesterday to refine their man-tracking skills deep in the woods and along busy streets.
About one-half mile down the trail, the dog found Mr. Robey sitting inside a bright yellow construction backhoe, protected from the sleet and freezing temperatures.
"Good boy. Get him out of there," Mr. Brothers told the dog.
This is the sixth year that the National Police Bloodhound Association has held its weeklong training school at a cluster of cabins near Bittinger in Garrett County.
The association, founded in 1962, has almost 350 members who conduct 2,000 to 3,000 searches a year. There are an estimated 300 other U.S. bloodhound handlers who do not belong to the association.
"You're on call 24 hours a day. You chase people who no one else wants to chase," said Lenny Millholland, an investigator with the Winchester, Va., Police Department.
Bloodhounds, known for their red-rimmed, sad eyes, sagging jowls and wrinkled foreheads, can begin tracking when they are just weeks old. Some dogs work more than 12 years tracking fugitives and people who are lost, including children and elderly people with Alzheimer's disease.
They can follow a human scent for miles.
But in recent years, financial problems at law enforcement agencies have left some bloodhound programs out of budgets. Police administrators sometimes tend to favor the German shepherd, which can be trained to sniff for drugs and bombs, search buildings and attack suspects.