PASCO COUNTY, Fla. — Maddie spends her afternoons running drills with her handler Deputy Robert Lewis. 

“If you know there’s something dangerous over there, you want to be able to stop your dog and send them to an area they haven’t been or to avoid an area that could be harmful to them,” said Deputy Lewis.

Maddie, black Lab, is a pivotal part of the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office, specializing in searching for lost or runaway humans.

“By using their nose they’re able to detect that odor which will draw us in,” said Jimmy Hall, K9 training coordinator.

Hall said they assisted in the search for Brian Laundrie last month. K9s like Maddie are not only able to sniff out people who are alive, but also human remains.

“If you can picture a ten-acre plot of land that we’re looking for someone, for humans the only way we could do that is physically walk those ten acres and use our eyes. Even when the human remains are buried, the dogs are able to use their nose and find them,” said Hall.

Pasco County is the only department in the Tampa Bay Area, and one of the only in the state, that has these dogs as a resource.

Hall said they can’t talk specifics on the case, but he says it usually goes a little something like this.

“We pre-map out the area we’re going to search, we look for anomalies. When we get there, we walk the area A. For the safety of the animal. And B. We look for actual anomalies. If we’re doing a large search with multiple acres, we need to put the dog in the highest probability area,” said Hall.

Hall and Deputy Lewis demonstrated how training typically goes with a live victim. 

It took Maddie a total of 19 seconds to locate him, much faster than any human would ever be able to solve a case.

“The final thing of the day is to find these people whether they’re victims of crimes, to bring closure to the families, and to close the case. And if it’s the situation, we need to hold someone accountable,” said Hall.