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Bloodhound puppy named after Jimmy Ryce’s late mother starts career with Miami Police

Miami Police Department announces new search and rescue dog

A new search and rescue bloodhound has been donated to the Miami Police Department by the Jimmy Ryce Center for Victims of Predatory Abduction, at the Miami Police Department in Miami, Florida, on Wednesday, May 22, 2019.
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A new search and rescue bloodhound has been donated to the Miami Police Department by the Jimmy Ryce Center for Victims of Predatory Abduction, at the Miami Police Department in Miami, Florida, on Wednesday, May 22, 2019.

The Miami Police Department’s newest member ran into the lobby Wednesday tugging on a leash and vying for attention.

The Jimmy Ryce Center, a nonprofit organization that works to raise awareness of child sexual predators, donated Claudine, a playful, 3-month-old bloodhound, to the department’s Special Victims Unit. She’s named after the late mother of Ryce, the Redland child who was abducted, raped and murdered in 1995.

As Miami Police’s first bloodhound since the ‘90s, Claudine will soon begin training to track missing children and adults, said Police Chief Jorge Colina. Bloodhounds have 60 times the ability to track people on scent compared to German Shepherds, he said.

“This is a resource that we will now have that’s going to help us accomplish our mission and save lives,” Colina said.

In September 1995, Jimmy, a 9-year-old Naranja Elementary School student, was last seen getting off a school bus five blocks north of his home, the Miami Herald reported. Hundreds of citizens joined police in the search, traversing through South Dade groves on foot, horseback and all-terrain vehicles. No bloodhounds were used.

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Jimmy Ryce, the 9-year-old boy from South Miami-Dade who was abducted and killed in 1995. MIAMI HERALD file

“Any bloodhound could have tracked that,” Lynn said.

After a three-month manhunt, Juan Carlos Chavez confessed to the crime. He was executed by lethal injection in 2014.

Claudine and Don Ryce founded the Jimmy Ryce Center the year after their son’s death, said spokeswoman Terri Lynn. The center has donated more than 600 bloodhounds to law enforcement agencies, she said. Each bloodhound costs $1,000.

The puppy’s name was a surprise to Don Ryce. He said the puppy shares his wife’s eagerness and drive. Claudine Ryce died from a heart attack at 66 in 2009.

“She would be particularly pleased that her name has been used for such a fine little pup,” said Ryce, 75.

Although he hopes Claudine won’t have to use her talents to find a missing child, Ryce said he is grateful the puppy could help save lives. His voice shook as he thanked the department and remembered a quote from his late wife.

“Every time a child was saved by one of these wonderful animals, it was like getting a hug from Jimmy,” he said.

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A search and rescue bloodhound was donated to Miami police’s special victims unit by the Jimmy Ryce Center at the Miami Police Department on Wednesday. The dog has been named Claudine after the late mother of Jimmy Ryce. Daniel A. Varela dvarela@miamiherald.com

Detective Sarah Mendoza-Pujols clicked her tongue and tugged lightly on the puppy’s leash as she rolled on her back for a belly rub. She became the puppy’s handler last week.

“She’s already attached to me, so I’m very excited for what’s coming,” Mendoza-Pujols said.

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