Gov. Justice, Babydog honor retiring Forestry bloodhound after 10 years of decorated service
CHARLESTON – Governor Jim Justice and Babydog are honoring Raisy, an award-winning member of the West Virginia Division of Forestry (WVDOF) K-9 Investigative Unit, who is retiring after 10 years of sniffing out forest fires and chasing down arsonists.
“Dogs have been known for a long time for being man’s best friend for all the comfort and joy they bring, but some dogs rise above that,” Gov. Justice said. “Investigative K-9’s like Raisy take their four-legged duty to the next level. Raisy has been solving crimes and winning awards for years and we are so appreciative of her hard work.”
Over the course of her 10-year career, Raisy has been part of 197 wildfire arson investigations in West Virginia, has sniffed out 29 missing person cases, and helped with 78 criminal investigations for outside agencies. She also has assisted federal agencies on seven wildfire investigations in states including California, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Virginia.
The WVDOF’s K-9 Investigative Unit has used bloodhounds like Raisy to track down arsonists for 25 years. Don Kelley and John Bird, a fellow investigator, help train and certify dogs and handlers for the WVDOF and other agencies and organizations.
“Raisy is a loyal companion and has dedicated her life to fighting crime and I’m going to miss working with her,” said Kelley, Raisy’s partner on the Investigative Unit for the last nine years.
Raisy retires with numerous awards, including West Virginia Police Canine Association K-9 of the Year (2016-2017), National Police Bloodhound Association Lifesaving Award (2014), and Raleigh County Sheriff’s Office Meritorious Conduct Award (2014).
“Our bloodhounds are naturally gifted sniffers, but they also go through intense training each year with the West Virginia Police to make sure their tracking skills are certified,” Kelley said. “Because they’re so good at what they do and have some of the best training, the evidence our bloodhounds dig up stands up in courts of law.”