Middlesex County Canine Search and Rescue Team says goodbye to Joker’s Wild

On Dec. 16, the Middlesex County Canine Search and Rescue Team lost its patriarch, Canine 832 Joker’s Wild, who was diagnosed with progressive cancer at age 10.   

Middlesex County Prosecutor Andrew C. Carey announced that on Dec. 16, the Middlesex County Canine Search and Rescue Team lost its patriarch, Canine 832 Joker’s Wild, who was diagnosed with progressive cancer at age 10.   

Commonly called Joker, he was a purebred search bloodhound purchased from the 832 K-9’s Deputy Dogs Kody Snodgrass Memorial Foundation in Florida.

Joker gave five years of exceptional lifesaving service to the team and was deployed to assist police agencies in Middlesex County in countless missing persons investigations, according to the statement. Those located through Joker’s exceptional tracking ability were suffering from dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, autism, suicidal ideation or considered endangered as a result of young age.

He also worked with Crime Stoppers of Middlesex County and Middlesex County Emergency Management.

“Joker was a remarkable bloodhound who loved nothing more than to get out and work,” his owners and handlers, Mike and Debbie Campbell, said in the statement.

They added that as soon as he saw them wearing their khaki uniform pants, which meant either a deployment or a training day, Joker would instinctively howl until he was placed in back of their SUV realizing that he would now get his chance to work, according to the statement.

In 2015, after a young woman was violently assaulted and left for dead, Joker tracked and led law enforcement officers to a residence, which ultimately led to the identity of her attacker.

“Joker’s work combined with a dynamic police investigation enabled the arrest of a dangerous predator and prevented further public harm,” Carey said in the statement.

For his assistance, Joker and the Campbell’s received an award from the New Jersey Sex Crimes Officer’s Association later that year.

Demonstrating his unyielding drive, Joker once tracked a missing adult male suffering from Alzheimer’s disease for miles up a busy interstate highway after the man unknowingly walked away from a summer family gathering. 

Additionally, Joker once 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. After detectives called ahead to all train stations along the line with the young man’s description, he was found in Newark’s Penn Station, according to the statement.      

When not working or in training, Joker loved attention and being amongst crowds of people, according to the statement. With his noble and dignified appearance, he won the hearts of hundreds of adults and children when brought to public events, local fairs, senior centers and scout troops.

“Middlesex County Law Enforcement has lost a loyal partner who served the county honorably,” Carey said. “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. He will always be known as the leader of the team.”