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Missing Woman With Dementia Found After Police Dog Used Her Scent Tracker

Stewart Perrie

Published 
| Last updated 

Missing Woman With Dementia Found After Police Dog Used Her Scent Tracker

Police in the US were called when an elderly woman with dementia was reported to be missing from her Sugarmill Woods home in Florida. But the authorities' job was made much simpler when they used her scent preservation kit.

K9 Ally and her handler, Deputy Justin Williams, found the woman within five minutes and she was safely returned to her property. The woman had completed her kit in January 2015, which is simply a glass jar containing swabs of her scent locked away inside.

Scent Preservation Kit
Scent Preservation Kit

Credit: Citrus County Sheriff's Office

That smell allows expertly trained dogs to be able to find its owner much quicker than by the traditional method of using a person's clothes. That's because articles of clothing can usually be contaminated by other people's scent and the smells of an environment.

The Citrus County Sheriff's Office has uploaded images of the search and rescue to Facebook, hoping it will prompt others, who are vulnerable or prone to getting lost, to start their own scent preservation kit. It's understood that, if done correctly, a scent can remain in a jar for up to seven years after it's been sealed.

K9 Ally was awarded an ice-cream for her efforts, while many people commented on the Facebook post asking how to organise their own kit.

K9 Ally gets an ice-cream
K9 Ally gets an ice-cream

Credit: Citrus County Sheriff's Office

According to The Canine Training Centre, particular dogs can detect three particles of human scent per trillion particles in the air. A golden retriever was deployed to Haiti following 2010's devastating earthquake and managed to find a person who had been trapped underneath rubble for 17 days. Another example came in Salt Lake City in 1994 when a child had been kidnapped, and a Rottweiler found them 40 miles away.

Detection dogs are used to find a variety of things, including bed bugs, drugs, explosives and fire retardants, termites and even cancer.

But their use for detecting illegal narcotics has been questioned in America and Australia. In 2011, the Chicago Tribune claimed the dogs are largely influenced by their handlers and residual odours can play a huge hindrance on them being able to find drugs that are present.

While in Australia, police were allowed to use dogs to detect drugs on people in public places and licensed venues like music festivals from 2001. The legislation was repealed in 2005 before the New South Wales Ombudsman delivered a report in 2006, which found that only 26 percent of dog detections resulted in drugs being found.

Featured Image Credit: PA

Topics: Drugs, Dogs

Stewart Perrie
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