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Piper is a heroic bloodhound in LAPD’s K-9 unit, and she caught a shooting suspect – Daily News

The nose always knows.

And that’s what the LAPD’s K-9 unit was banking on when one of their bloodhound sniffers was let loose to hunt down a gunman who allegedly critically wounded a California Highway Patrol officer during a traffic stop on Laurel Canyon Boulevard in Studio City.

Piper, a four-year-old, 68-pound reddish-brown pooch, was the hero of the day on June 13 when she led police to the suspect, who she found hiding in a homeless encampment.

After a 12-hour intense citywide manhunt, LAPD came up empty and Piper was called to do her thing.

The longer humans take to abandon an unsuccessful search, the harder it is for a bloodhound to pick up the pace.

Time, wind and heat dissipates the scent.

And finding the end of a trail can become difficult because a suspect can hop onto a bus or get in a car somewhere along the line, leaving searchers and dogs frustrated.

But it only took Piper 15 minutes from start to finish to locate Pejhmaun Iraj Khosroabadi, 33, hiding in a tent in an encampment. The former Marine was arrested shortly before 9 am June 14 and now faces the charge of attempted murder of a peace officer, which could result in a sentence of 40 years to life in prison.

“Trailing is what Piper did,” said LAPD Sgt. Desi Ehrlich who supervises the K-9 unit. “She followed a scent trail left behind by the suspect. When we walk, we drop ‘skin rafts’ — which leave a trail behind us that are invisible to the naked eye. Only a dog’s nose can follow that trail.”

Skin rafts are made up of our skin cells, hygiene products, bacteria, fungus, parasites, sweat, hormones and enzymes. They are unique to each individual.

Piper is one of several dogs used by LAPD not only to hunt down suspects, but drugs and critical missing people like those experiencing dementia and Alzheimer’s or children with autism who go missing and can’t find their way back.

Sometimes Piper gets to wolf down a cheeseburger after a successful find, but that’s not often because it’s a very special treat.

“In-N-Out is probably her favorite cheeseburger,” Ehrlich said. “We don’t go animal style. Typically, it’s just the patty and bun.”

LAPD uses bloodhounds because their ability to detect scents for a longer time is much greater than other breeds.

“Bloodhounds will literally trail for thousands in the right environment,” Ehrlich said. “Typically, those dogs are from the South and they are back in wooded areas where there is a lot of grass and dirt and trees, so all those scents stick and a dog will just go for miles and miles.”

LAPD’s program has been adjusted to fit into its urban area with people, cars, trees and tents.

“The dog has to work through all that,” Ehrlich said. “It’s a little bit more difficult.”

Police officer Joshua Leon, Piper’s handler, was with her when she found the alleged shooter.

He described the hunt for tiny microorganisms as physically and mentally exhausting.

“Imagine searching for that, it’s really straining on them,” Leon said.

There are different answers, depending on whom you ask, about where the term bloodhounds originated. Some say it goes back to the 1800s to the name “pure blood,” because those hounds were pure bloodhounds only used for tracking.

LAPD gets its search dogs from the same breeders and vendors used by police departments all over the country. The nonprofit Los Angeles Police Foundation picks up the estimated $10,000 tab, which includes the price of the dog and the cost of training an officer.

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