(CBS Local) — Bloodhounds and search dogs are routinely called in when someone disappears, but the trail can go cold quickly.
But a new kit could help police find missing people faster with a simple swab.
All around us, scents and smells, many unpredictable — but to Jax, who’s been working his whole life to find people — criminals, missing children and endangered people.
It’s not always easy though.
A trained bloodhound handler and longtime law enforcement officer and mom of twins, Dr. Coby Webb has worked countless criminal and missing people cases.
“The ones that bother me is why didn’t I find little Suzy. Things like that. And I started realizing the problem was the scent items,” Webb said. “When I show up looking for a scent item, most of the time they’re contaminated.”
Dr. Webb developed a kit called “Find ‘Em Scent Safe.” She explained the kit in a way that it really makes sense.
“I have twins. So they’re intermingled all the time. Especially with them. And I do the laundry. My scent is on everything. I fold it. I kiss them good night. I lean over their pillow,” Dr. Webb said. “So that’s where I came up with the idea, how can I help the dog be more successful and have families have their loved ones found quicker.”
In order for these dogs to do their job, they need something that smells just of you and no one else.
Dr. Webb wanted a higher success rate of finding missing kids, elderly loved ones, hunters and hikers.
A sterile piece of gauze is placed against the skin for several minutes before being sealed and stored back in the kit. The kit can remain in the freezer for a year.
“I really like thoroughness and doing it right,” Dr. Webb said, explaining that the kit treats the collected scent as evidence.
Heather Abraham wanted to put the kit and the dogs to the test. She used the enclosed sterilized piece of gauze to capture her daughter Lila’s scent.
Her dog Marley was put to the test immediately — Heather and her daughters got lost.
Working against many obstacles like lawnmowers redistributing their unseen fallen skin cells and a crowd of people, Marley was really put to the test.
She was able to locate Lila within minutes of beginning the search.
Dr. Webb said this is why it’s so important to have a clean scent stored away in case of unforeseen emergencies, so search crews can get on the right path in no time.
“Mainly when the dogs can give us that direction of travel, then we know how to leapfrog up ahead and start looking at surveillance footage or start putting other resources up ahead,” Webb said.
For more information on Find ‘Em Scent Safe, and how to get it, visit this link. It costs about $20.