Third Annual Bringing The Lost Home Summit Hosts Top Florida K9 Search Teams For Advanced Scent Discriminate K9 Training.
Scent Evidence K9 hosted the third annual Bringing The Lost Home Summit in Tallahassee March 14 – 16, 2023 to build scent discriminate K9 search skills, recognize missing person response successes, and share the best practices of agency participants and community partners. Since the Bringing The Lost Home Program was introduced in Florida in 2019, 243 people have been found and thousands at risk of wandering in Florida communities are better prepared and protected by the resources provided by the Bringing The Lost Home Program.
K9 teams from participating Florida Sheriff’s Offices and Police Departments across Florida attended the third annual event and shared their lifesaving K9 search results and best practices with neighboring agencies. Handlers had the opportunity to build their K9 search skills through advanced scent discriminate trailing exercises to support the program’s goals of improving missing person response capabilities, K9 search recovery success, and community awareness of Florida’s vulnerable populations with Alzheimer’s Disease and autism who are at high risk of wandering and going missing.
The Summit agenda included a half-day focus group on March 14, 2023 with presentations by The Alzheimer’s Project CEO, John Trombetta, The Flagler County Sheriff’s Office Behavioral Response Unit, Florida Dept. of Elder Affairs, Rep. Rachel Plakon, and former Rep. Scott Plakon to discuss the program’s impact on Florida communities. K9 Teams then attended a special Advanced K9 Trailing scenario-based training seminar with Scent Evidence K9 CEO, Paul Coley, to further their K9 search capabilities in missing person deployments. Locations included FSU’s Doak Campbell Stadium, David L. Tucker Civic Center, and other urban and rural areas around Tallahassee.
Florida’s Bringing The Lost Home Program bill has worked to implement scent discriminate K9 search resources for Sheriff’s Offices in Escambia, Orange, Bay, Sumter, Seminole, Lee, St. Johns, Charlotte, Putnam, DeSoto, Nassau, Franklin, Marion, Flagler, Highlands, Jacksonville Counties, and The Tallahassee Police Department. Agencies participating in the program have seen large increases in their K9 search response success rate and many of the K9 Teams have multiple lifesaving missing person recoveries to their credit. So far this year, the number of missing persons located has more than doubled those recovered last year. Bringing The Lost Home Program K9 Handlers have added 5 finds since attending the Summit. “We see a dramatic increase in K9 recoveries after our scent discriminate training seminars. The hard work the teams put into developing their trailing skills pays off once they go back to their agency,” stated Scent Evidence K9 CEO, Paul Coley. Read about the Bay County Sheriff’s Office K9 find HERE and the St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office K9 find HERE
Scent Evidence K9 CEO, Paul Coley, and The Alzheimer’s Project CEO, John Trombetta, partnered with sponsors, Rep. Rachel Plakon, and former Rep. Scott Plakon to introduce the Bringing The Lost Home bill to help law enforcement better serve their populations with Alzheimer’s/Related Dementia and autism who are at high risk of wandering and going missing. The Bringing The Lost Home Program enhances missing person response capabilities and recovery success by raising missing person awareness, mitigating risk, and improving search performance through the use of missing person response training, scent discriminate K9 trailing, and an innovative Scent Kit program that helps to create missing person awareness and provides an effective way for families and caregivers to prepare for a wandering event before it happens.
The program is focused on recovering individuals who have a propensity to wander or elope with a rapid response and recovery. The program provides Scent Preservation Kits® or “Scent Kits” to families with loved ones living with Alzheimer’s Disease or related dementia (ADRD), and autism. The Scent Kits allow families and caregivers to pre-collect a person’s unique scent in a special jar and store it for up to 10 years. The Scent Kit also includes an Individual Preparedness Plan flash drive that caregivers can use to provide search responders with accurate identification information. Having the Scent Kit prepared in advance gives K9 search responders the tools they need to find a missing person fast and bring them home safe.
The Alzheimer’s Project identifies groups and areas in need of services and works to educate residents about the Scent Kits and Missing Person Awareness for at-risk groups. They also provide Alzheimer’s awareness training to the participating agencies to help mitigate potential trauma to the individual and expand law enforcement interaction skills with a person who has dementia.
Bringing The Lost Home Program also includes Scent Discriminate Missing Person Response Protocol and Scent Discriminate K-9 Trailing training for the participating agencies which will impact law enforcement response capabilities by increasing search success and decreasing the time and resources needed to find missing persons.
Protecting and Recovering People At Risk of Wandering
Florida has the second-largest Alzheimer’s Disease population in the U.S. with over 580,000 residents living with the disease. Studies show that 60% or 3 of every 5 persons with Alzheimer’s Disease or dementia will wander and go missing. The numbers are almost as high for children with autism. The American Pediatric Association states that 50% of those with children with autism will wander/elope and go missing at least once before age 17.
Scent Evidence K9 CEO, Paul Coley, a former FBI Forensic Canine Operations Specialist, has made it his company’s mission to not only improve missing person response capabilities for communities but to protect individuals before they go missing.
Thanks to all of our Bringing The Lost Home Program K9 teams and our community partners for attending the Summit and working to protect our most vulnerable populations.