Stored scent program could help Pittsburgh bloodhound find lost people
Pittsburgh police’s newest bloodhound, Cappy, wasted no time Friday finding a city employee hiding out in Point State Park.
Public Safety Social Media Specialist Tricia Adamczyk volunteered for the demonstration intended to showcase a program dubbed “Scentsational.” The program allows the public to store the scents of people prone to wandering away and becoming lost.
The city is partnering in the free program with the FBI and Allegheny Health Network.
“The bloodhound is an amazing animal,” said Pittsburgh Lt. Charles Henderson. “Their skills are honed to the point that they can actually make a differentiation between identical twins. The dog is able to, even in a well populated location like where we are now, segregate this scent from other scents and follow and find the person that we’re looking for.”
Under the Scentsational program, people can go to a city police station to be swabbed and have their scent stored in a sterile container. The container will be returned to them for storage in a refrigerator or area where the temperature is below 80 degrees with low humidity. AHN is supplying the containers and swabs at no cost to the city and will expand the program to include medical facilities.
“This way, we have a sterile scent to be able to offer the dog. It makes it easier for him to track,” Henderson said. “If they do become lost, you just hand us back the container that you have and we’ll pass it off to the dog and he’ll do his thing. The scent should be good for about seven years.”
Using sterile gloves and a swab, Henderson captured Adamczyk’s scent from her forehead and the back of her neck. She took off from the park’s Portal Bridge for a spot near the fountain.
Several minutes later Cappy followed her trail. With K-9 Officer Kevin Merkel in tow, the dog ran several hundred yards to where Adamczyk was sitting. The entire exercise took about five minutes.
“Every minute is critical when a child or an adult goes missing and resources like the dog, as you’ve seen earlier, can send us in the right direction and help us kick off a successful investigation,” said Scott Argiro, supervisory special agent with the Pittsburgh FBI office.
Public Safety Director Wendell Hissrich lauded the FBI and AHN. He said Pittsburgh would dispatch Cappy for tracking to any suburban community in the region upon request.
“We’ll be able to hopefully save lives, whether it be a senior citizen or a child that may go missing,” he said.
Bob Bauder is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Bob at 412-765-2312, [email protected] or via Twitter .