Bill Tolhurst learned that a human Skull found at a construction site in Fort Erie, Ontario, Canada was believed to be very old. It was sent to Toronto to be examined by experts. This resulted in the Construction work being halted and the site more closely examined.
When the experts moved in they determined that this site on the shore of Lake Erie was a battle and burial site from the war of 1812. It was known as Snake Hill.
Bill was fortunate to not only make contact with, but also received permission from one of the experts at the site ( Dr. Ronald F. Williamson ) to go to the site and work his Cadaver dog "Candy". Bill wanted to test her talents and advance her expertise in locating bodies for law enforcement.
On December 14, 1987, Bill and his chocolate Lab "Candy" went to the site were they met with Dr. Williamson. After a short discussion about the site Bill was allowed to work Candy around the scene. As Candy worked around the area she alerted on remains that had been found at various locations, proving she knew what she was doing. Altogether Candy gave Bill eight or nine alerts and all were confirmed correct.
Dr. Williamson Told Bill there was a portion of the site that they had not yet worked, as they were waiting for funding before they could continue. He asked Bill if he would like to work Candy in that area. Bill agreed and took Candy to this area where she worked a few minutes, stopped, turned, faced Bill and barked. Then she came back to Bill and took him back to the same spot. Bill asked her, "You got something? Show me." She went back to the spot, barked, and made a couple of passes of digging with her feet. Bill praised and rewarded her and took her word as gospel as she had never yet given him bad information.
Sometime later, after funding was received, Bill was contacted and told that three bodies had been found right where Candy predicted.
On September 14th , 2000 Members of the Pittsburgh P.D. K-9 Unit Came up to Lockport , N.Y. to talk to Bill Tolhurst about Bloodhounds. From left to right: K-9 Officer Steven Ritchie (Lockport Police Department) , K-9 Officer Dave Starks (Amherst Police Department) , Special Deputy Dan Foley (Bloodhound Handler for N.C.S.D.) , the three members of the Pittsburgh Police Department, Trainer Rudy Harkins , Vince Jones , Sgt. Chris Micknowski , and Bill Tolhurst on the right.
A few years ago (Summer of 2000), Officer Vince Jones from the Pittsburgh Police Department was on the Internet and made contact with Bruce Ludemann Jr. (Designer and builder of the Home Of The Big T web page & friend of Bill Tolhurst's) from New York who also helps train bloodhounds with Bill . Bruce talked to Officer Jones about the abilities of the Bloodhound, This concept peaked Jones's interest, and he continued researching the possibility of Pittsburgh obtaining a Bloodhound of its own. A short time later, Officer Jones, Training Officer Rudy Harkins and Sgt. Chris Micknowski made a trip up to Lockport, New York (Niagara County) and talked to Bill Tolhurst further about the abilities of a bloodhound. Within their short visit Bill showed them videos, scrapbooks, told them of cases he had worked with his bloodhounds over the years and answered all of their questions. With the assistance of the local Officers pictured above, Officer Jones, Officer Harkins, and Sgt. Micknowski were able to see the Bloodhounds work first hand. Trails were run at the local fair grounds to show them what a bloodhound is capable of doing. A trail was also run Through the City of Lockport, to show them that a bloodhound CAN be effective in the city environment as well.
If Officer Jones was not hooked on Bloodhounds before this trip he certainly was after it. As they left the next day Officer Jones bought all three of Bill's books, hoping to learn as much about Bloodhounds as he could, In hopes that someday he would be a Bloodhound handler.
It's funny how things have a way of working out because Low and behold, the next day or two after their trip, Training Officer Harkins was talking with an officer from Ross Township (PA.) who said, “Hey Rudy, do you know anyone who would want a bloodhound?” Soon thereafter, the City acquired Sammy for free from a family who was considering putting him to sleep. Sammy was 15 months old at the time, and with a mere three weeks of training, was ready to become an esteemed member of Pittsburgh’s Finest. (Pictured here is Training Officer Harkins with "Sammy".)
“We solicited a lot of help and expertise from a man in Niagara County, New York, named Bill Tolhurst, It’s incredible what this man knows about Bloodhounds. He’s been great to us ever since then; extremely cooperative."
Officer Vince Jones,
Pittsburgh P.D. K-9 Unit