HILO — There’s a new police officer moving to West Hawaii, of the four-legged kind.
A German shepherd named Argos will soon be joining the Hawaii Police Department, specializing in tracking and locating missing children. Argos gets his name from the dog in Homer’s “Odyssey,” known for his speed and tracking skills.
Argos will be paired with a detective handler and a spotter from Hawaii Police Department’s Juvenile Aid Section in Kona.
The Honolulu nonprofit Friends of the Missing Child Center-Hawaii donated the dog, and the Hawaii County Council is scheduled to accept the donation, valued at $10,000, Wednesday. But Argos probably won’t arrive for another few months, Friends President Katherine Chung said Thursday.
The Friends’ mission is to “raise funds to support and initiate recovery of missing and abducted children,” as well as public awareness and education about the issues of missing children, according to its website, http://www.missingkidshawaii.org.
The Friends have donated tracking dogs to all the Hawaiian Islands, including one in Hilo and now, a second one in Kona. West Hawaii’s previous tracking dog, Magnum, fell ill and was retired and died a few months ago, Chung said. One of his career highlights was finding a boy who’d been missing more than 12 hours.
The dogs are sometimes known as “cadaver dogs,” but their skills go beyond that, Chung said.
“We purchase them for the kids but they do much more,” she said. “We understand the benefit the scent tracking dog brings to the community.”
Argos, who is not quite 2 years old, is just completing his training and will fly to Kona when it’s cool enough to put him on a plane. In the meantime, Argos’ new handler from the police department will likely be flying up for getting-to-know-you sessions with the dog.
The County Council will formally accept the donation as Resolution 196 at its meeting at 9 a.m. Wednesday at the West Hawaii Civic Center.