Being a K-9 handler has its perks: just ask Officer Ryan Paulsson, the bloodhound handler at the Westport Police Department.
"It's one of the best jobs at the department," said Paulsson, a native Westporter who now lives in Milford. "One of the things I like most is being able to work with my pet."
Building a bond with their dogs is important, so all K-9 handlers take their dogs home. In addition to taking 5-year-old Ellie home with him every night, Paulsson, 32, said he enjoys the versatility of his job.
Unlike many police departments, the Westport Police Department has a German shepherd and a bloodhound. And because bloodhounds, known for their superior sense of smell, are trained only to track and find people, Paulsson said they are in demand.
"Before Stamford got a bloodhound, we were the only municipal bloodhound department in the state," he said. "Bloodhounds are more of a specialty dog, so we're often called to different towns. We'll help any department that has a need for a bloodhound."
In his eight years as a K-9 handler, Paulsson said he's been called to every town in Fairfield County.
"We're called anytime someone needs to be found, from missing people to those who don't want to be found," Paulsson said, adding that Ellie gets a treat after every find. "We've found runaways, people that break into cars, an Alzheimer's patient, and a hiker who got lost at Trout Brook Valley Preserve."
Though all of these are aspects of the job that he enjoys, Paulsson said watching Ellie at work is most amazing.
"As cops, we're fixated on evidence. In this line, there's no physical evidence, so you put all your faith in the dog," he said. "To watch her turn left, then right, or cut through a yard based on scent, it's just great."
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