CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - K-9 Morty is only a year and half old, but the golden retriever is making Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department history as the department's first cadaver dog.
Police say in the past, the department used to have to borrow a cadaver dog.
"We had to borrow a cadaver dog from another police department probably about six or seven times and we just got to the point where we realized we've got to have that resource our self," said Sgt Katherine Scheimreif.
Sgt. Scheimreif, the supervisor of the CSI Unit, says when they were helping homicide detectives find the missing Uber driver last year, they had to again borrow a cadaver dog to search a lot of areas before finally finding the body of Mario Medina Chevez over the state line in York County.
After that case, the department decided to get its own. In came Morty, who is from Colombia, South America.
"He's trained to search for human remains and that can include several different stages of human decomposition to include bone, teeth, blood," said Morty's handler Kenny Buhr.
Police say Buhr is also making history.
"This is the first civilian K-9 handler that we've had at the police department," Sgt Scheimreif said. "Typically they're police officers, but we went civilian. Crime scenes are specific. We wanted somebody with a forensic advance knowledge, like Kenny has, going over these crimes in order to preserve necessary evidence because you really do literally have to tiptoe through these things."
CMPD says K-9 Morty has been going through rigorous training and was recently certified.
"All of his training – because he's so new – he's done some searches in woods, on rooftops, inside outside in cars," Sgt Scheimreif said. "As far as an actual criminal case, he hasn't had that opportunity yet ."
Morty is also being trained to find drowning victims.
"He actually is going to be trained to sniff the top of the water for drowning victims," police say. "It was always very troublesome when somebody has the unfortunate situation to lose a family member in the lake to drown and if we can save them some pain of that grief of waiting days for recovery of the body – think of how amazing that would be. So if we bring Morty in from the beginning we can give some relief that's worth its weight in gold."
Police say the water sniffing will take into consideration "calculations with currents, the weather and wind while trying to triangulate back to when the person was last seen."