Fayette County’s Women of Public Service On The Trail with Investigator Sarah Munday and K-9 Odin

Sarah Munday began working in the jail for the Fayette County Sheriff’s Office in 2013, after working with Jasper County Fire and EMS for three years. While working at the jail, when Sgt. Chris Robison (a full service K-9 handler) would come into the jail, she would talk to him about the dogs in the K-9 program. It was something she had always wanted to do. She would show up to many of the K-9 practices to help lay trails, decoy and anything else the K-9 team needed.

In 2016, soon after she started working on the road as a ?Deputy, which qualified her for the K-9 team. The county’s bloodhound team had an opening, she says. “They actually called and asked me if I would be interested in working a dog. Of course, I jumped right on that! I was already so active in proving that this is what I wanted to do.”

Sarah is currently the only female officer on the K-9 team and the only female Traffic Investigator at the sheriff’s office. The Fayette County bloodhound program began around 1991, and the full service K-9 program around 2007. The department has eight dogs, including three bloodhounds: Odin, Georgia, and Copper.

Sarah’s bloodhound partner, K-9 Odin, just turned three this past Easter. She recalls when she and her bloodhound teammates Lieutenants Dan Thamert and Shane Whitlock drove to Massachusetts to pick up 11-week-old Odin from a breeder that they work with through the National Police Bloodhound Association.

Training a working puppy is a lot of work, Sarah says. Starting off with having to do 10-15 puppy trails with him each day to gradually adding distance and difficulty to the trails.

Bloodhounds are born with a natural ability to find things and in K-9 Odin’s case, people. It can take up to a year to not only train but to fully understand a working bloodhound. It all depends on the temperament of the dog and handler’s ability to read the bloodhound. It’s important for Sarah and her team to learn and understand their dogs queues before taking them out in the field. Each dog has its own body language that tells them if they are on the trail.

Sarah explains that their bloodhound team is set up a bit different than others, being that they train with each other’s K-9 partners and have the ability to read and handle all the bloodhounds on the team. The reason being, bloodhounds tend to have the ability to work a lot longer trails, and if something happens, ie. if the handler gets injured another teammate can pick the lead up and finish the trail out. Sarah explains that last year she actually broke her ankle on the trail and her Lieutenant was able to pick the lead up and take over. “We all train on them so that when we go to court, we can stand up and testify that we know how this dog works and behaves and we can read them,” Sarah explains.

As a Traffic Investigator, her official duties are to work traffic enforcement and traffic accidents. Anytime there’s a fatality accident, Sarah is able to be called in to investigate the collision.

K-9 Odin is able to help when there is someone who decides to run from an incident scene, or there is a lost child or lost elderly person. Occasionally, Sarah and K-9 Odin are called in while off-duty to help find a missing person.

She is also a certified POST instructor through the Georgia Public Safety Training Center (GPSTC) in Forsyth, a POST training center for public safety officials in Georgia. Sarah says she really enjoys assisting the teaching of basic mandate students. She says it’s fun teaching the students not only to give them a female officer’s perspective, but to have someone who currently works the road to give pointers and help show them different techniques to police.

With her additional background in Fire and EMS services beginning in 2010, she also teaches other medical courses and Narcan classes for the sheriff’s office.

Sarah is currently working from home due to the current public health crisis awaiting the birth of her second son, due later this summer. Sarah says she 100 percent misses being on full duty, and her partner K-9 Odin, who is staying with other members of her team to continue his work until she is able to return to the field.

Sarah and her family live in Fayetteville, and she says it would be very difficult for her to ever move away. “I love this county,” she says. “I have a great, great neighborhood. My neighbors are awesome, with lots of little kids for my son to play with. It’s such a great atmosphere with great schools.