He was born in rural Missouri, and it was immediately clear that he was different from the rest. He caught his first criminal when he was just two years old. By his sixth birthday, he had located burglars, missing children, drug dealers, rapists, and murderers—including Utah’s most wanted criminal. Known to friends as JJ, to law enforcement as Michael Serio’s partner, and to captured criminals as “that damned dog,” Jessie Jr., an exceptionally talented bloodhound, bayed like a sea lion that had swallowed a fog horn.
Before JJ, few police departments in the West used bloodhounds, and none in Utah. But just when JJ was finally convincing naysayers, he and Officer Serio ran into something worse than resistance: the despair of failure amid high hope. JJ had been tracking Brian David Mitchell, the man who abducted Elizabeth Smart, when he was pulled off the track. Elizabeth later told investigators that on the day she was kidnapped she heard a dog baying in the woods behind her.
In almost nine years of service, JJ helped apprehend nearly 300 criminal suspects in the Salt Lake City area. Here is his remarkable story, fleas and all.
Adam David Russ is assistant editor of the Blue Moon Literary & Art Review. His short stories have appeared in Paradigm, The Battered Suitcase, and the collection All in the Game. They have garnered awards from Writer’s Digest, The Baltimore Review, and New Millennium Writings and have been performed at Stories on Stage. Click here to view the trailer for Bloodhound in Blue.