Labrador retriever Bolt has superpowers; New Harford County drug dog taking department by surprise


     Bolt, a Labrador retriever, was recently rescued from Louisiana and has found a home as a drug-sniffing K-9 for the Harford County Sheriff’s department. 

     After originally being found tied to a tree during the hurricanes happening halfway across the country, Bolt became the first rescue dog to be working at the agency in over 30 years.

     According to WBAL, a neighbor saw Bolt and took him to a shelter, where he was then found by They Rescue Us Inc. (TRU) This Maryland nonprofit group removes dogs from high-kill shelters. 

     “TRU brought Bolt, (then called Bolton) to Maryland and placed him with a foster, the daughter of a sheriff’s deputy, who thought he had the right stuff to become a police dog,” Our Community Now reports. 

     The K-9 unit supervisor, Corporal Marty Hoppa, ran Bolt through several test programs to see if he had the drive needed for him to become a police dog. WBAL says Bolt “excelled there and in the K-9 training, despite planned distractions from heavy machinery or a friendly trainer meant to throw him off the scent.”

     In an interview with WBAL, Hoppa explains that “not all dogs are good [police dogs] because they do not have that desire.” He says he was looking for the dog’s ability to work his nose, such as how much he wants to hunt and how excited he is to find it.

     Hoppa shares that the office “took a chance on Bolt.” He also explains that typically, police dogs come from specialized breeders. Cristie Hopkins, a spokesperson for the sheriff’s office, said the agency has not had a rescue K-9 in years because of the large expense. According to WBAL, Bolt’s adoption cost less than $400.

     Bolt is now handled by the senior deputy Andrew Sampson. According to Sampson, Bolt is the “same as any family pooch, though one that has been through a lot.”

    “Reading the signals a K-9 gives off requires a lot of training,” Sampson explains. When Bolt smells any type of contraband, he stops and focuses on the spot. However, Sampson says there are other signs a K-9 handler has to interpret during a “sweep.”

    Junior Bella Silvesteri heard Bolt’s story and thinks all police K-9’s should be rescued, “as long as they meet the set requirements.” However, Senior Jack Depriest disagrees. He explains that “some dogs that have been rescued have had a bad past and aren’t fit for law enforcement.” 

     Senior Jess Hanlonn also thinks police dogs shouldn’t be rescued. “It’s easier to train puppies, and rescues can be reactive due to their past trauma,” she says. 



Bolt and his handler/partner Senior Deputy Andrew Sampson training at the Sheriff’s Office.