Will County Sheriff affords scent preservation kits to assist bloodhounds discover youngsters, adults questioning – Chicago Tribune
As the weather gets warmer, the Will County Sheriff’s Department is encouraging parents with kids who have a tendency to wander to get an essential tool that can offer peace of mind and save valuable time should they ever get lost.
The Sheriff’s Department offers Will County residents free scent preservation kits that store a person’s uncontaminated scent, which the department’s bloodhound picks up when trying to locate a missing person.
The preservation kits are good for people with autism or other special needs, children who are prone to digression, and adults with memory disorders such as dementia or Alzheimer’s, said associate canine boss Martin Stortz.
Stortz works with his partner Lizzy, a 2 1/2 year old bloodhound named after Elizabeth Smart who was kidnapped in 2002 at the age of 14 and found nine months later.
Lizzy is “a smelling machine” and is only used by the missing persons department, Stortz said.
The American Pediatric Association estimates that nearly 50% of children with autism will be missing at least once before the age of 17. Because many of these children are drawn to the water, it’s important to find them quickly before something tragic happens, Stortz said.
“Sometimes when they have a disability, they don’t realize they can’t walk out the door,” he said. “Time is of the essence for these children. Statistics show that they tend to head towards bodies of water. The time is running.”
Homer Glen trustee Nicole La Ha, who chairs the village’s Ability Awareness Committee, said she hopes parents of children with special needs will take advantage of this Will County program. The village recently hosted an educational program to help parents make their homes more accessible in the event of an emergency.
“It’s every parent’s worst nightmare,” La Ha said. “These scent kits are known for saving lives and finding children.”
Likewise, seniors with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease can easily become disoriented and forget how to get home. Sometimes they take a similar route, but sometimes they take wrong turns and end up lost and confused in a neighboring town, Stortz said. For every hour a person goes missing, they could walk about three miles based on their average walking speed, he said.
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The Will County Sheriff’s Department said six out of 10 people with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease are missing, so the scent preservation kits can offer added reassurance to family members caring for an elderly loved one.
The kit includes a special evidence-proof jar, sterile gauze swab, gloves and tamper-evident tape. It only takes seconds to swab a person’s neck and head and capture their scent on the gauze pad. The jars can preserve the scent for up to 10 years, Stortz said.
“A person’s smell is like a fingerprint,” he said.
Stortz recommends families keep the jar in an easily accessible place, e.g. B. on the fridge. When the K-9 unit is called in a missing person case, the officers quickly grab the jar and offer it to their bloodhound, who is ready to go to work.
If a family does not have a scent protection kit, officers must search the missing person’s room or laundry to find an article of clothing that contains that person’s unique scent and is not cross-contaminated with someone else in the household, Stortz named. Families often share a basket or children share clothes, facilitating cross-contamination.
Will County residents can pick up a complimentary Scent Containment Kit from the Sheriff’s Department, 16911 W. Laraway Road, Joliet.
Michelle Mullins is a freelance reporter.