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Florida Bloodhound Team Uses Scent Kit to Find Missing Teen with Autism in Sumter County – Find #600

Florida Bloodhound Team Uses Scent Kit to Find Missing Teen with Autism in Sumter County. Sumter County Sheriff’s Deputy Robert Mata and new K9 partner Indy responded to help locate a missing teen with autism on May 28, 2024. The Florida teen is nonverbal and had been missing for almost 24 hours. He was reported missing at about 9 p.m. and had been last seen on foot wearing only boxer shorts. Using a Scent Kit that had been prepared in advance as the scent article, Dep. Mata deployed K9 Indy, a 10-month-old Bloodhound trained by Scent Evidence K9. The scent discriminate K9 team trailed through heavy vegetation for almost a mile into a swampy area. K9 Indy trailed around a section of brush too thick to navigate through and located the teen in neck deep water, shivering and covered in bug bites. When Dep. Mat approached the teen, he said one word…” Cold.” Dep. Mata gave the teen his shirt to help keep him warm and began walking him out of the swamp until the teen stopped. Dep. Mata looked down and saw the ground was covered in thorn bushes, so he picked up the teen and carried him past the thorns back to his family. Dep. Mata and the Sumter County Sheriff’s Office have been training and preparing their community for wandering events like this for years. The lifesaving recovery was reported by major news organizations across the state. Click Here for the Spectrum 13 News article.

Missing Teen Sumter County Florida
Provided by Spectrum 13

Dep. Mata and K9 Indy first met in March 2024 during the 4th Annual Bringing The Lost Home Summit in Tallahassee when Indy was donated to SCSO by Scent Evidence K9. This is their first find as a team. It is also Find #600 by our Scent Evidence K9 partners across the country! “We are very proud of this lifesaving K9 team. Sumter County Sheriff’s Office was the very first Scent Evidence K9 partnership with law enforcement. We’ve been training their teams and providing scent discriminate services to the agency for over 7 years. They were one of the first agencies to provide our Scent Kits to people in the community who are at high risk of wandering,” stated Scent Evidence K9 CEO, Paul Coley.

Sumter County Florida is home to The Villages, perhaps the largest retirement community in the world. SCSO Capt. Robert Seimer implemented Florida’s first Scent Kit program back in 2017 to help protect and locate those with Alzheimer’s Disease and autism who are at high risk of wandering. 60% or 3 in 5 people with dementia will wander and the number is almost as high for children with autism. “Florida has a lot of water and those at risk of wandering are often drawn to water. Having a Scent Kit prepared helps responders find them faster by providing an uncontaminated scent article to search with,” stated Coley. Dep. Mata earned his Master Handler certification from Scent Evidence K9 in 2021 for his successful search deployments and he has many missing person recoveries and suspect locations to his credit.

Deputy, K9 Helped Find Missing Teen With Autism 

WFTV - Missing Teen Sumter County Florida
Provided by Fox 35 Orlando

In 2019, Sumter County Sheriff’s Office was one of the first agencies to participate in Florida’s innovative Bringing The Lost Home program. Scent Evidence K9 and program partners, The Alzheimer’s Project, Inc., provide missing person/wandering awareness education, scent discriminate K9 trailing and missing person protocol training, scent collection technology, and Scent Kits to participating Florida agencies. The program is now entering its 6th year and has been implemented in 25 counties. “Sumter County Sheriff’s Office has been proactive in protecting their community in case of a wandering event. This latest find for Dep. Mata and K9 Indy is the culmination of their hard work, continuous training, and commitment to creating a safer community,” stated Coley.

Contact the Sumter County Sheriff’s Office for information about getting a free Scent Kit.