Venice facility hosts bloodhound training as Suncoast missing person cases increase

ABC7 News at 5pm
Published: Aug. 11, 2022 at 6:10 PM EDT
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VENICE, Fla. (WWSB) - A nonprofit organization was on the Suncoast this week showing how some four-legged experts can quickly find missing people.

Bloodhound training and demonstrations were underway Thursday at the Senior Friendship Centers in Venice.

The training helps finding missing people, including the elderly who may have dementia or other issues -- and even young people who may be autistic.

“If you don’t know what it’s like to lose somebody or misplace somebody, it’s a scary feeling,” said Debbie Campbell, a K-9 handler with True Blue Bloodhounds. “And knowing that we can bring that person home to their loved ones is what’s important to us.”

True Blue Bloodhounds says they not only help find missing people, but these bloodhounds can also track down criminals. K-9 handlers say bloodhounds have a sense of smell better than any breed of dog. Handlers say their dogs can smell a person’s scent up to 300 hours old and follow it for more than 130 miles.

“Just two weeks ago, we had someone missing over 24 hours and they were searching all night for him,” said Lt. Paul McDole, a K-9 handler with a sheriff’s office in North Carolina. “And we were able to find him within about 10 or 15 minutes after being on the ground.”

K-9 handlers from law enforcement agencies in different parts of the country converging on Venice this week. The training that was being done involved different scenarios where a dog smells the scent from a person, then tracks down that person.

“Finding people, it’s what they are bred to do, it’s what they are born to do, it’s what they love to do,” said Jeffrey Turner, a K-9 handler with the Highlands County Sheriff’s Office. “And their physical abilities, they’re natural abilities are what helps them to be able to locate these missing people and bring them home.”

The Senior Friendship Center is a popular place for people to gather for a wide array of activities. Members were happy to see these bloodhounds at their facility, especially since there have been so many elderly people who have gone missing on the Suncoast recently.

“This is wonderful and the training and how wonderful the animals are and people who do it,” said Joan Maccormack with the Senior Friendship Centers. I had goosebumps from some of the stories they were telling me, being able to find people who are lost.”

For more information on True Blue Bloodhounds you can log onto their Facebook page.

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