NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ - He was always called "Joker," short for Canine 832 Joker's Wild, and for five years, this bloodhound assisted police in Middlesex County on countless missing persons and other investigations.
In 2015, after a young woman was violently assaulted and left for dead, Joker found a track and led law enforcement officers to a residence, and ultimately led to the identity of her attacker.
On Sunday, Middlesex County Prosecutor Andrew Carey announced that Joker, the patriarch of the Middlesex County Canine Search and Rescue Team, had died from a progressive cancer at age 10..
“Middlesex County Law Enforcement has lost a loyal partner who served the County honorably," Carey said. Joker, he said, "Will always be known as the leader of the team."
"Although the Team will continue to assist in missing persons investigations with Canines 832 Aleck William Wallace and 832 Beckett, Joker will be missed by my entire staff and the many municipal officers that have come to know and love him," the prosecutor said.
Carey said Joker was a purebred search bloodhound purchased from the 832 K-9’s Deputy Dogs Kody Snodgrass Memorial Foundation located in Florida.
Among those who were located through the bloodhound's ability were people suffering from dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, autism, suicidal ideation and individuals considered endangered because of their young age, authorities said.
In one instance, Joker tracked a missing adult male suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, following a trail for miles on a busy interstate highway after the man unknowingly walked away from a summer family gathering.
In another case, the dog tracked the scent of a missing young autistic male to the northbound platform of a local train station, which gave detectives a direction of his travel. Detectives then called ahead to all train stations along the line until the young man was found in Newark’s Penn Station.
Although described as gentle and easygoing, authorities said, Joker did not fit the stereotype of lazy, lie-around bloodhound often portrayed on television.
His owners and handlers, Mike and Debbie Campbell said in a statement that Joker "loved nothing more than to get out and work.”
The Campbells said that he saw the couple wearing their khaki uniform pants, he would howl instinctively until he was placed in back of their SUV realizing that he would now get his chance to work, either for deployment or training.
When not working, Joker loved attention and being among crowds of people, and he won the hearts of hundreds of adults and children when brought to public events, local fairs, senior centers and scout troops, Carey said.