ELIZABETHTOWN, Ky. - Sometimes it takes a little something extra to get where you need to be. In the police search for a man now charged with attacking a 10-year-old child, that something extra has four paws and fur.
Kentucky State Police found Jetto Dye nearly three-quarters of a mile into the woods in LaRue County with the help of Fero, a K-9 handled by Senior Trooper Seth Payne.
Dye, 28, of Hodgenville, was charged June 3 with attempted murder, kidnapping, first-degree sexual abuse and first-degree attempted rape of a 10-year-old girl from LaRue County.
Dye is accused of taking the sleeping child from a home and into the woods to assault her.
Fero, a 2-year-old German shepherd from Slovakia, found and bit Dye in the left leg above the knee after a 40- to 45-minute trek into the woods. Police said Dye ignored multiple warnings from a trooper.
The single bite hospitalized Dye, who required surgery.
Payne said Fero has "proved invaluable."
"I don't know, without K-9, if we could have found the suspect that night," he said. "I would say it was one of the most rewarding days in K-9 for me."
Kentucky State Police has 26 dogs and three different breeds in the K-9 Unit, 14 of them west of Interstate 75. Each post area has one narcotics dog.
Training by a veteran officer usually lasts two to five months. If the dogs are between the ages of 18 months and 2 years, they can serve the police department for up to eight years, said Sgt. Chris Knifley, supervisor of the K-9 Unit.
"When you're selecting dogs, you want to be real specific," Knifley said.
Factors considered for selection include loyalty, prey drive and play drive, but also good health and no predisposition to genetic conditions.
Prey drive is the dog's desire to hunt down someone or something.
Play drive is the dog's desire to reach a goal and be rewarded.
Although it may look to outsiders as though the dogs are malicious, that's not the case, Trooper Mark Combs said.
"It's not out of aggression, but they're trained that way, and it's a game for them," he said.
Knifley said Fero isn't the only dog that has located suspects. A number of murder suspects have been caught this year through help from the K-9 Unit.
But the K-9s are more than just fellow crime fighters. They're companions.
"I spend more time with him probably than with my family," Payne said. "I always have a partner in the back with me."
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