NEIGHBORHOOD CRIME TRACKER: Meet Ella, New Milford police’s bloodhound

NEIGHBORHOOD CRIME TRACKER: Meet Ella, New Milford police’s bloodhound
Updated: May. 12, 2022 at 6:15 PM EDT
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NEW MILFORD, CT (WFSB) – Channel 3′s Neighborhood Crime Tracker went to New Milford to introduce people to one of the department’s newest officers.

It’s Ella, a 90-pound 20-month-old canine. She recently found a missing 12-year-old girl.

Ella is not a German shepherd.

With her floppy ears and nose to the ground, Ella is a bloodhound and she’s good at picking up scents.

“Sweat, skin cells, soap detergent,” listed Officer Mark Williams, New Milford Police Department.

Just one of those three scents is enough for her to track someone down.

“Compared to other dogs, she has an excellent nose for tracking and trailing humans,” Williams said. “I’m very proud of her.”

Williams is Ella’s handler, and he has a lot to be proud of because just last week she found the missing 12-year-old girl.

“Usually use a 30- or 15-foot leash and hold on for dear life because she’s so eager to find that person,” Williams said.

Twelve hours after the girl went missing in Monroe, the department called on Ella and Williams.

Williams let Ella smell a shirt from the missing girl’s closet.

That was all she needed.

“We went through swamps, over rocks and she didn’t give up,” Williams said. “She was eager to find the person we were looking for.”

In less than an hour, Ella and Williams tracked the girl and brought her to safety.

“Ella would either jump on the person or sit next to the person,” he said. “She’s looking for her treat. She deserved it. She works hard and usually gets her treat after she finds the person.”

Channel 3 wanted to put Ella’s skills to the test and have her find Channel 3′s Matthew Campbell using a piece of gauze.

The gauze had some skin cells and residue of sweat.

Williams puts the gauze in a plastic bag.

“She has a special harness,” he explained. “She knows when that harness goes on, it’s time to go to work.”

Campbell went to hide.

He crouched behind a utility box and set a timer to see how long it would take for the canine to find him.

Williams put the police harness on Ella, shared Campbell’s scent and off she went.

She immediately headed in Campbell’s direction. She checked out some people on a bench, realized it wasn’t him, and moved to Campbell’s photographer. She shook him off too, then scanned the woods for a couple of seconds before locating her target. The whole search took less than a minute.

“We’re not here just to search and rescue, but also look for criminal aspects,” Williams said.

While Ella does important work, Williams said that at the end of the day, her personality is just like dogs at home.

“She’s just a big mush,” he said. “She loves people, she loves to be pet, loves what she does.”

She is one of just a few police bloodhounds in Connecticut.

Williams said that means she’ll likely be called on often.

They will be ready to respond, when possible.