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How DIY Scent Kits Help Search Dogs Find Missing People

Scent Evidence K9
Credit Scent Evidence K9
Scent Evidence K9

A missing Citrus County woman with dementia was recently rescued with the help of something called a scent preservation kit.

According to the Citrus County Sheriff's Office, it took a trained search dog less than five minutes to find the elderly woman after it sniffed the scent kit she had made two years earlier.

The kit she used was pioneered by Paul Coley, co-founder and CEO of Tallahassee-based Scent Evidence K9.

“There’s been a lot of research done, and your odor, your scent is specific to you, just like your DNA and your fingerprint," Coley said. 

He said he started developing scent preservation kits after his 3-year-old great-nephew went missing. Though the search was successful, and the boy was found OK, Coley realized it would have been easier if the bloodhounds had gotten better information about the little boy. 

His scent kits come with a special swab for collecting underarm odor and DNA and a specially designed container to preserve them.

“So if you put it in an area where it stays below 80 degrees and it’s out of the sunlight, it lasts for a very long time,” he said — up to 10 years. 

According to Coley, autistic children and people with Alzheimer’s and dementia are most at risk of wandering off and getting lost.

His children’s kits let parents preserve a child’s scent, DNA and fingerprints. There’s even an option for pets.

Three Florida counties — Sumpter, Marion and Citrus — have bought kits to hand out. And, Coley said, Marion County police are in the process of developing a computer program that will let people register with the department so officers will know where t home they keep their kits.

Scent Evidence K9’s scent preservation kits cost around $20.  

Contact reporter Cyd Hoskinson at choskinson@wjct.org, 904-358-6351 and on Twitter at @cydwjctnews

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Cyd Hoskinson began working at WJCT on Valentine’s Day 2011.