Winnebago Co. Sheriff’s bloodhounds use new tool to find missing people faster

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WINNEBAGO COUNTY (WREX)- A new scent kit allows the new bloodhounds at the Winnebago County Sheriff’s department locate missing people faster.

The Winnebago County Sheriff’s Department says the number of missing people in our area is slowly increasing as they are receiving at least one call a day. However, the department has now found a new way to fix that.

“The number of missing persons, whether its at risk adults or children is dramatically increasing across the nation, and we’ve seen it here as well,” Winnebago County Sheriff’s Department K-9 Sergeant, Nick Cunningham said.

A company called Scent Evidence is pairing up with the K-9’s by providing them with kits that come with a double lined glass jar, and a gauze pad for people to rub their scent off on.

This allows K-9’s like Nancy Drew to use their nose to sniff the uncontaminated scent inside the jar. The Sheriff’s Department says things like this could be the difference between finding a missing person or not. The goal is for families who have a known person who wanders off or is at risk, as well as places like nursing homes to use this kit so the dogs have the ability to locate them faster.

“These kits will dramatically speed the process up for us because it’s absolutely clean and there is no contamination,” Cunningham said.

“If we have that one persons odor set aside for that kit and it’s good for an extremely long time, its extremely beneficial,” Winnebago County Sheriff’s Deputy, Stan Metzler said.

The kit has the ability to hold onto the person’s scent for up to 10 years. On Friday, 13 News Reporter Megan Hedstrom got a chance to put the K-9’s to the test to see how quickly the dogs could find her based off her scent in the jar.

After walking a few blocks away, in only a matter of minutes, Nancy Drew sniffed her way through downtown Rockford to located Megan by sitting at her feet to tell her handler she found who she was looking for.

“In the meantime while you were walking we watched and observed at least five different people walk over that,” Metzler said.

However, since Nancy Drew had her uncontaminated scent to go off of, she was able to track her down without any distractions

“We continuously have to challenge the dogs. We are doing tracks and trails every day with these dogs,” Metzler said.

The Winnebago County Sheriff’s Department says it has been training the bloodhounds with the scent kits, and hope to integrate them into nursing homes and with families across the area.

If you or someone you know is interesting in purchasing a kit you can check out Scent Evidence’s website HERE.

K-9 scent kit
Megan Hedstrom

Megan Hedstrom


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