New scent kit helps police track missing people faster

FAYETTE COUNTY, Ga. (CBS46) – Copper, the bloodhound, has helped track down missing people for the Fayette County Sheriff’s Department for the last three years.

Now, a new tool is helping her locate them faster with just a swipe of the skin.

The Find’em Scent Safe kit was created by Dr. Coby Webb, a decorated police captain and bloodhound trainer in Southern California.

The kit relies on people and not police to collect evidence that will be helpful in a search.

Contamination of touch and smells is one of the biggest challenge search dogs face because they confuse them, said Lt. Dan Themart with the Fayette County Sheriff’s.

Kids are usually the hardest to find.

“A lot of times they share a bedroom,” said Themart. “You may have another child that took the blanket and now you have a contaminated scent article and that's going to make it much harder for the hound.”

The kit comes with a sterile piece of gauze that is wiped across the skin to absorb the scent.. Themart recommends holding it on the skin for at least 30 seconds to a minute.

“If you have a small child…you want to get on their forehead would be a good place. Or on the back of their neck,” he said.

The gauze is then sealed and stored in the freezer, where it can last up to a year.

Themart said the gauze can be presented to officers at the time a person is reported missing and it gives them a head start.

“A lot of time when we get on scene our first goal is to find a good scent article,” said Themart. “If we have to spend 10, 15, 20 minutes looking for a scent article and even then if you find one you don't know 'Hey is this from the right person. Has it been contaminated with other odors? That's 20-30 minutes we're behind already.”

CBS46 put Copper to a test run at the station’s parking lot.

We swiped a Fayette deputy and allowed Copper to breath in the scent.

Within minutes, she had picked up a scent and was on her way to finding the hidden deputy.

“The closer she gets to the person. The fresher and stronger the scent is,” Themart said.

He recommends the kits for parents, people with Alzheimer’s and dementia and the elderly.

Kits cost $20, for more info, click here.

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