Scent kits

Scent kits are a valuable tool, say DeSoto County Search and Rescue Director William Nichols and team member Angela Fletcher, with search-rescue dog Maddy.

Families of special needs children and adults with Alzheimer's, dementia or other diseases that put them at risk of becoming lost and disoriented, will find comfort with free kits available from DeSoto County Search and Rescue, a division of the Sheriff's Department.

"It's a great thing, especially for families who live near the woods and worry about kids or an older family member getting lost," said Sheriff Bill Rasco. "Having these kits on hand and using them will help us, in a missing person case, speed up the recovery."

Scent kits are made up of a sterile swab and a double-walled glass jar with a titanium lid. The swab is wiped on an individual's arm, back or armpit to gather the person's specific scent, at which point the swab is placed in the jar to avoid contamination of that scent. In the event that the person goes missing, the scent kit can be supplied to a search and rescue dog, enabling the canine to more easily track down the individual.

Angela Fletcher, a Search and Rescue team member and owner of a search-rescue dog named Maddy, praises the kits as vital for putting canines quickly on the right trail.

"When I respond to a scene with K-9, I can present Maddy with a scent article that does not have other individuals' odors on it," said Fletcher. "It saves, on average, an hour's worth of work."

The Sheriff's Department recently purchased some 500 kits, said DeSoto Public Information Officer Tanner Kuntz. William Nichols, Director of Search and Rescue, said he expected the kits to go fast.

Anyone interested in receiving a free scent kit can call Nichols at 901-282-7473 or email at wnichols@desotocountyms.gov.

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