Some folks get the opportunity to take their sons or daughters to work with them.

Falls Police Officer Donny Booth gets to bring his pet to work with him.

In a twist any animal lover would relish, Booth, one half of the Falls Police Department's Animal Control Unit, has raised his own bloodhound Flash and brought him into the department as the agency's newest K-9 officer.

"It's something I've always wanted to do," Booth said. "And I've always like the idea of having a dog on the job."

Falls police have been working without a K-9 officer since the retirement of Officer Mike Bird and his partner Pharaoh. Now Flash the bloodhound is ready to step up.

"I knew the department needed something like a bloodhound," said Booth, a 12-year veteran of the force. "They're good on the job and good in the community."

Falls Police Superintendent Tom Licata said Booth approached him about having Flash join the force not long after he became the city's top cop. But like everything in the Falls, money was a consideration.

"(Booth) came to me and said, 'This is what I've done. What do you think?'," Licata recalled. "I said we'll have to see what we can do."

Booth had already put himself through the first two levels of training to become certified as a bloodhound K-9 handler with the support of former Police Superintendent Bryan DalPorto. Flash, who's now two and a half years old has been preparing for police work since he was a 4-month-old puppy.

"They're specialized in their field," Booth said of bloodhounds. "His breed is the best tracking dog."

Flash is what's known as a man-tracking K-9. While humans track by following markings on a trail like footprints or broken brush, Flash follows the skin cells that humans shed.

"The shepherd breeds are more multi-purpose," Booth said. "They can be trained to detect narcotics and explosives. But the bloodhounds, they track. And they won't give up. It's what they live to do. It's what they love to do."

Within days of joining the force, Flash proved his worth by joining the hunt for what police believed was a woman who had been taken hostage after being brutally beaten on Monroe Avenue in the Falls. A witness to the attack got the hunt started on the afternoon of June 9.

Beginning with a splash of blood in an alley, officers found periodic smaller blood spatters stretching to another nearby alleyway, where the trail appeared to end. That's when Flash went to work.

"We were following little tiny pin-pricks of blood," Booth said of the zig-zagging path Flash followed.

But when the blood trial stopped, Flash kept pressing forward. His bloodhound nose led Flash to a latched fence at a house where the victim was found chained in the basement.

She was rescued and her attacker was arrested.

"Every time I take Flash out, he amazes me. He just kept going," Booth said. "I'm glad we found the girl. Who knows what could have happened. I couldn't be more proud of that dog."

Booth said Flash can look forward to another 12 years of police work and when he's not on the job, he's a "lovable pet at home." 

"But he eats a lot. It like having a teenager in the house," Booth said. 

The superintendent said the hunt for money to give both Booth and Flash more training is underway. Someday, Flash might even have his own police car.

"The bloodhound is different than anything we've had before," Licata said, noting the department has been able to partner with the narcotics and explosives K-9s of other nearby law enforcement agencies. "But that was an incredible piece of police work by Flash on Monroe Avenue. He's a good dog and we'll only expect more as he gets more training."

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