British Columbia

Hammer the RCMP dog used 'furry persuasion' to nail suspects

Hammer, an RCMP dog in B.C.'s Comox Valley, is being credited with helping law enforcement nail two suspects and locate a missing hiker all within a four day period.

The B.C.-based canine is credited with three big finds in four days

Hammer lives with his RCMP handler Cpl. Don Graves in the Comox Valley on Vancouver Island. (Comox Valley RCMP)

Hammer, an RCMP dog based in B.C.'s Comox Valley on Vancouver Island, is being credited with helping law enforcement nail two suspects and locate a missing hiker — all within a four day period.

The hiker's family had reported her missing Jan. 24 and Comox Valley Search and Rescue members were called to search the Trent River trails system. Three kilometres into the chilly search, just as dusk set in, Hammer picked up the scent of the hiker and her dog.

At that point rescuers began calling out to the woman and when she responded they were able to pinpoint her location. She and the dog were brought out of the bush and back to safety.

"Thankfully, this situation ended well, with Hammer locating this woman quickly," said Cpl. Don Graves with Comox Valley RCMP.

Hammer began his puppy training in Nova Scotia when he was 10 weeks old. In December 2016, when he was one year old he moved to New Brunswick for service dog training. (Halifax RCMP)

Hammer began his puppy training in Nova Scotia. Now four years old, the German shepherd is considered a junior member of the RCMP service dog team.  When he's not on duty, Hammer lives with Graves.

Canine outwits suspects

A day after the rescue, RCMP were conducting routine patrols in Comox when they saw a man — well known to police — enter a home, contrary to his probation conditions.

Officers got permission from the homeowner to search inside for the suspect who was found hiding in a tight crawl space and refusing to come out.

"That presents a significant officer safety issue — having to get into that kind of confined space — as a police officer, you are going in blind," said Cpl. Tori Cliffe with Comox Valley RCMP.

Hammer was sent into the dark crawl space and the suspect was quickly taken into custody. Cliffe wouldn't say what tactics the dog used to convince the suspect to come out.

"Just having the presence of that dog in that kind of space initiates people to be more cooperative," said Cliffe.

Two days later, in the early morning hours of Jan. 27, RCMP officers were investigating a mutli-vehicle collision caused by debris spread across Highway 19 in Fanny Bay.

Road maintenance crews noticed a person acting suspiciously around the accidents and Hammer and Graves were called to the scene.

"Hammer picked up a track right away and followed it into the bush'" said Cliffe.

The suspect was found in a wooded area shortly thereafter and taken into custody. Police said they will ask prosecutors to consider laying a mischief charge against the 35-year-old Courtenay man, who was later released. 

So how did Hammer convince the suspect to come out this time?

"Furry persuasion," said Cliffe.

Comox Valley RCMP celebrated Hammer's achievement in a tweet late Thursday afternoon.

Calling it  #TongueoutThursday the tweet says Hammer "is prancing with glee as he rescued a hiker and captured two suspects."

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