HOMOSASSA SPRINGS, Fla (WFLA) – When 89-year-old Fred Davenport realized his wife Blanche wandered off Monday night, he first looked for her himself.
“I went out and looked and called her name and no answer,” said Davenport, who’s been married to his wife for more than 60 years. He immediately called 911 for help.
Citrus County sheriff’s deputies responded to his home in the Sugarmill Woods subdivision in Homasassa Springs.
One of those deputies remembered Blanche had a scent preservation kit. That deputy looked on the top of the refrigerator, and there it was.
Deputy Justin Williams and his K-9 Ally went on the hunt and located Blanche within about five minutes.
Blanche is 88-years old and suffers from dementia, but can’t stop talking about Ally and Deputy Williams.
“Oh, that dog was wonderful. He found me,” said Blanche, standing next to her husband on their stoop. “He was beautiful, but his master was with him the whole time.”
Fred then chimed in, “The deputies told me that dog never loses. Especially when they have the scent.”
The scent preservation kit the Davenport’s had is not anything new. In fact, the sheriff’s office reports there are more than 5,000 such kits in circulation. The kit consists of a sterile jar and some gauze. The gauze is rubbed on areas of the body that traditionally perspire. The gauze is then sealed in the jar and stored in a safe place. The jar preserves the scent for an extended period of time. Blanche’s was more than two years old.
Deputy Williams says many people ask why this method is more effective than others.
“I hear a lot of people ask, ‘can’t you go get a t-shirt or something lying around the house.’ Yes, we can do that,” said Williams, “But more often than not, there are other people living here with that person, you are going to have odors from other people.”
After Monday’s successful reunion, the sheriff’s office posted on Facebook. The response was overwhelming. People from all over the country and the world asking where these kits could be obtained and media agencies worldwide are requesting interviews.
The Citrus County Sheriff’s Office provides the kits for free at any of its locations. They are also available at some county library locations.
Unfortunately, due to high demand, they are out. Deputies hope to replenish the supplies in the next few days.
The sheriff’s office works with a non-profit organization called Find-M’ Friends to provide the free kits. The kits can also be ordered from Find-M’ Friends where donations are accepted. For more information you can go online.
Crime Prevention Deputy Nancy Suto compares the free kits to an insurance policy.
“We buy homeowners insurance, hoping we never use it, but we have it if we need it if something happens at our home. Same with our vehicle insurance,” said Suto.
“This is just one more layer of insurance, but this is for the individual. So if that person should wander off and get lost, we’ve got insurance in a jar. Now we an get an article out of the home, but it delays the time in us getting the dogs out on the ground.”
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