Adams County Sheriff’s Office introduces new K9; Bids farewell to Bloodhound Duke

Published 2:36 pm Tuesday, February 13, 2024

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NATCHEZ — Shortly after the passing of the 7-year-old Bloodhound Duke, Adams County Sheriff’s Office introduces the newest member of its K9 unit.

Tosca is a 2-year-old female Belgian Malinois, the same breed as her K9 partner Dubai, imported from the Netherlands.

Also like Dubai, she is a multipurpose K9 trained in tracking, detecting narcotics and apprehending suspects. While the pair did get along at first meeting each other on Tuesday, they will not be bred. “Tosca can’t work if she becomes pregnant,” said K9 officer Mike Kracek, her new handler.

From left is Mike Kracek and K9 Tosca and Dale Cardwell and K9 Dubai. Both graduated from the K9 Unlimted Academy on Friday as Tosca joins the K9 Unit of Adams County Sheriff’s Office. Dubai, who was introduced ACSO in 2020, now has Cardwell as his new K9 officer. (Sabrina Robertson | The Natchez Democrat)

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K9 Officers Dale Cardwell and Kracek both graduated from K9 Unlimited in Lafayette, Louisiana with Dubai and Tosca on Friday after completing five weeks of training.

Dubai, previously handled by Kracek, arrived at the department in 2020. However, he re-entered the academy with his new handler Cardwell at the same time as Kracek and Tosca.

Like her predecessor Duke, Kracek said Tosca is particularly good at tracking.

“I got her the week before we went to school and we started bonding,” Kracek said. “She lives at the house with me. I’ve handled all three dogs. I worked with Duke for almost two years. He was my first K9 partner, so when he died that hit close to home. It was a sad day.”

K9 Duke, pictured, retired from Adams County Sheriff’s Office in December 2023 just a few weeks before he died on Jan. 11. (Submitted)

Duke had been donated to the sheriff’s office in 2016 and became nationally certified through Georgia K9, which specializes in bloodhounds. He retired in December 2023 just a few short weeks before he died on Jan. 11.

Over his career, Duke received level I, II, III, and IV Master Trailing certifications.

In order to achieve a level IV certification, Duke had to successfully detect a track that was at least four hours old and track it for a minimum of 1500 yards over urban and rural terrain.

Duke was primarily used for tracking, searching for lost persons, and public demonstrations. Duke had several handlers throughout his career, including Lee Best, Chip Mingee, Kracek, and his last handler was Deputy Kevin Wells.

Adams County Sheriff Travis Patten said losing Duke leaves a void in the K9 program that will be very hard to replace, adding Duke had such a good demeanor and was one of the best tracking dogs he had ever seen.

K9 Duke during a visit to Adams County Christian School in 2019. Duke retired from Adams County Sheriff’s Office in December 2023 just a few weeks before he died on Jan. 11. (File photo)

Duke was also great with children and was an attraction at public demonstrations, especially when he began to bark and howl as only Bloodhounds can.

“For us he was unique,” Kracek said. “Angola uses Bloodhounds a lot. He was such a good dog and if we ever needed him to find somebody, he could find them. He was also a poser (for the camera). He would sit in the unit with his lip on the kennel, literally smiling. He was a character.”

Kracek recalled a time when Duke tracked a suspect who had stolen a side-by-side to a wooded area off of U.S. 84.

“It was funny because there were a whole bunch of briars. We tracked him to the briars and Duke kind of looked at me and then looked at the hill. The briars were about six inches thick. Reading his body posture, it was like he was trying to tell me, ‘He’s over there, but I’m not going up there.’ Sure enough, I put Duke up and we went over and he was over the hill passed out by a tree in bare feet. We walked him out the same way he went in.”

Kracek said Tosca was picked not only for her tracking capability but specifically for her calm temperament.

Mike Kracek and K9 Tosca, a 2-year-old Belgian Malinois, graduated from the K9 Unlimted Academy on Friday and Tosca joins the K9 Unit of Adams County Sheriff’s Office. (Sabrina Robertson | The Natchez Democrat)

“There were a couple of other dogs we looked at but we picked her because of her demeanor. We do a lot with the schools and other things and we wanted one that could work well with the kids. Dubai is the same way. We’re excited to take on this next chapter of our K9 division and expand it. We want to thank the private citizens who donated the money to get her.”

Altogether with training, the K9 costs approximately $23,000 which had been given by anonymous donors, he added.

Tosca, at left, meets Dubai for the first time as she joins the K9 Unit of Adams County Sheriff’s Office. (Sabrina Robertson | The Natchez Democrat)