TAMPA, Fla. — The sense of smell is one of the most reliable and for a dog, their sense of smell is 40 times stronger than ours. That has been proven priceless for law enforcement.
And now another valuable tool to add to Pasco County's arsenal. A simple kit. It stores a person's scent in a database kept at the Sheriff's office so police canines can have a solid starting point in a search and rescue.
As part of their "SafetyNet" program the Pasco County Sheriff's Office will be giving out free Scent Kits to participants who qualify. Scent Kits are used to track a missing person.
"Last year we had 1200 people go missing in Pasco County that required a search of some sort," said detective Gennis Folsom.
Detective Gennis Folsom said most of those people were the elderly or kids with special needs. It's also used to help officials in search and rescue operations for people who have cognitive disorders. This includes Alzheimer's disease, Dementia, Autism and Down syndrome.
Those high-risk individuals are already enrolled in a program called Safety Net and wear transmitters and now another tool.
"And now they will have this scent kit as well. So we can track them mechanically using a radio frequency or we can track with them with the bloodhound and pure scent," said Folsom.
A sterile gauze is rubbed on exposed skin then sealed in a glass jar. It's viable for five years or more, according to the Sheriff's office.
The program provides a transmitter device to each enrolled member. The transmitters emit a radio signal to track anyone who may be wandering around. They can be used up to one mile on the ground, and between five and seven in the air.
The Scent Kits are an additional preventative measure to be used in the case of an emergency. They will be collected by the "SafetyNet" coordinator when they attach a new transmitter to a new client.
Officials can use these tools to cut down the amount of time it takes to find a missing person, and increase the likelihood of a safe recovery.