A grandmother who wandered just outside the backyard fence at a child’s birthday party. An elderly neighbor who became confused at the grocery store and couldn’t remember the way home. Scenarios like these that have the potential to end in tragedy are now less likely thanks to a new partnership between three caring organizations and one dedicated Bloodhound named Will-O.
Funded by a $57,000 grant from the Rex V. Stevens and Dulciza Stevens Fund and the Frances and Joseph Victor Fund at Central Florida Foundation, Senior Resource Alliance (SRA) is partnering with Scent Evidence K9 for the organization’s “Bringing the Lost Home” project, which uses advanced scent discriminate K9 training to locate missing persons. In addition to his involvement with Scent Evidence K9, Will-O will be a full-time member of the Orange County Sheriff’s Office’s K9 Unit.
“We are so incredibly grateful to the Central Florida Foundation and all our community partners for making this partnership with Scent Evidence K9 possible,” said Karla Radka, President and CEO of SRA. “With the help of our new furry friend, we will be able to save many seniors’ lives and help provide peace of mind for caregivers and loved ones.”
“Central Florida Foundation is proud to support this partnership to help keep seniors safe and to give their loved ones and caregivers peace of mind,” said Sandi Vidal, Vice President of Community Strategies & Initiatives at Central Florida Foundation. “We are grateful to the donors whose lasting legacies make these grants possible.”
Scent Evidence K9 uses its scientifically tested Scent Preservation Kits to swipe, seal and store a person’s unique scent so that K9 responders can use an uncontaminated scent article to begin searching for missing loved ones and quickly bring them home safe and sound.
“Because of Senior Resource Alliance’s commitment to ensuring seniors are able to age with confidence and dignity, the nonprofit is the perfect fit as a ‘Bringing the Lost Home’ project partner,” said Paul Coley, CEO of Scent Evidence K9. “With the help of our Scent Preservation Kits and trained Bloodhound, Central Florida seniors can feel more secure and protected against the dangers of wandering away.”
Through the “Bringing the Lost Home” project, SRA and its partner agencies now have access to the following:
- More than 2,500 Scent Preservation Kits – with detailed collection and storage instructions – to be distributed to seniors in need.
- Scent Discriminate K9 Trailing Training for up to eight Agency Handlers at Scent Evidence K9’s training headquarters in Tallahassee.
- Community Awareness Training, consisting of two, three-hour sessions about wandering awareness, scent kit application and Scent Evidence K9’s “Just Nosey Enough” missing persons guidelines.
As is common practice between the K9 units, Will-O will also be available to respond to calls that come in at the sheriff’s offices in Brevard, Seminole and Osceola Counties.
“We are thrilled to welcome Will-O into the Orange County Sheriff’s Office family and grateful for the generous donation from our community partners,” said Sheriff John Mina. “Bloodhounds bring so many important skills to our K9 Unit, and we know he will play an important role in helping us protect seniors and others in our community.”
SRA provides a number of preparedness and prevention services to the estimated more than 85,000 seniors living with Alzheimer’s or dementia in Orange, Osceola, Seminole and Brevard Counties. To learn more about Scent Evidence K9’s services, visit ScentEvidenceK9.com. If you or are a loved one are in need of assistance, call SRA’s ELDER Helpline at (407) 514-1800.