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Book honors Salt Lake police officer, bloodhound partner

Published: Sunday, Aug. 4 2013 12:17 a.m. MDT

Salt Lake police officer Mike Serio, posing with his dog Junior, talks about his late dog, JJ, as Serio and author Adam Russ discuss the new book Bloodhound in Blue: The True Tales of Police Dog JJ and His Two-Legged Partner, Saturday, Aug. 3, 2013, in Salt Lake City. The book tells the story of Serios efforts to integrate bloodhounds into the departments mix of police service dogs. With JJ by his side, they captured nearly 300 criminals together and changed the face of K9 programs in Utah and the West.

Tom Smart, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — In more ways than one, Adam Russ and Michael Serio wouldn't have been at the King's English bookstore Saturday signing copies of Russ' book "Bloodhound in Blue" if not for friendship.

“Bloodhound in Blue: The True Tales of Police Dog JJ and His Two-Legged Partner” was published in July and documents the close friendship and bond between Salt Lake police officer Serio and his dog JJ, who was the first bloodhound to do police work in Utah.

But the longtime friendship between Serio and Russ — who met as children in Germany and later became college roommates — helped bring the book into being.

According to Russ, Serio is so particular about who watches his dogs, that he once flew Russ out from California to watch his current dog, Junior. While here, Russ found news reports and clippings about the work Serio and JJ did together.

"After that visit, I started talking to (Serio) about, 'We should write a book about this. It's a cool story that needs to be told,'" Russ said.

Serio said he bought JJ simply to be a pet, but on visits to the park the bloodhound would track anyone who walked by.

"He would just pick up an odor and just go, and I thought there was something to that," Serio said. "I was starting to see if he could do this without any training, with some training he might be really exceptional."

He started doing some research and training, and eventually JJ joined Serio as his partner on the Salt Lake police force. Before then, only Belgian Malinois and German Shepherds were working for the department, but JJ was able to show the value of having a bloodhound on the force who excelled at tracking.

During his police career, which ended with his death from cancer in 2008, JJ "caught nearly 300 bad guys," Serio said. Now, there are three bloodhounds working for Salt Lake police and as many as 10 are being used around the Salt Lake Valley.

"(JJ) was an outstanding police dog," Serio said. "And it wasn't just the numbers. It was more the way he did it. He was able to track guys that would not normally be caught. He was able to track for long distances and tracks that were older in age and through urban environments."

The bond between the two ran deep and Serio said there is still a shrine to JJ in his home. After JJ died, Serio didn't think he could work with another dog and he went back to patrol duty.

"I eventually started to realize where my heart was," Serio said. "Even though I didn't have JJ with me, JJ taught me to love dogs because of what he did for me and that's when I realized that I needed to be back in dogs."

Not long after, he went to a breeder in Colorado to pick out a bloodhound puppy. The breeders knew about Serio and JJ and they gave him Junior as a gift. Now 5 years old, Junior works alongside Serio and joined him and Russ at the book event Saturday.

The chance to meet Junior prompted Kim Patterson to make the drive to Salt Lake from Ogden with her children. She caught wind of the book signing through the King's English email list. She said she loves the store's author events, and knew this would be one for the whole family.

"My kids love dogs," she said. "We had two German Shepherds we trained for search and rescue and they love true stories."

Brigette Bennett is a fellow Salt Lake police officer who brought her two girls to congratulate Serio on the book and to see Junior. She believes the book has a good message.

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