While the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department has long employed dogs who sniff for drugs and explosives, police didn’t have a cadaver dog until Morty, a 20-month-old golden retriever, finished school in February.
Morty can find dead bodies in various stages of decomposition and smaller items like blood, bones and teeth, police said. He’s learning to find drowning victims, too, by sniffing just above the water.
“The challenge with Morty, being a golden retriever, is that he wants to be in the water,” CMPD Sgt. Katherine Scheimreif said. “So we have to kind of hold him back a little bit...we’ve had different challenges, obviously, with an animal, but he is pretty amazing.”
A cadaver dog from another department helped with the search for Charlotte Uber driver Mario Johnis Medina-Chevez, whose body was found in Rock Hill in May 2017, police said. After borrowing the dog six or seven times, CMPD decided it needed its own dog, Scheimreif said.
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K-9 training is carefully documented so that a dog’s findings can hold up in court, Scheimreif said. Morty graduated from CMPD’s 12-week K-9 school in February and has already been on a couple of calls, though Scheimreif said he hasn’t had any big investigative successes yet.
At night, Morty goes home with his handler Kenny Buhr, a crime scene investigator and the department’s first civilian K-9 handler. Morty came to CMPD from Colombia and understands some Spanish, Buhr said, although he mostly works with English commands.
Morty has his own baseball card with stats on the back, which comes in handy for the lighter parts of his job.
“He does a lot of elementary schools, Boy Scouts, that kind of thing,” Scheimreif said.
Morty’s name is no coincidence, police said – he got it because he’s an expert in postmortem remains.