How to Preserve Your Loved One's Scent Articles for a K-9 SAR Team
It a scent-trailing K-9 handler will not be responding to the scene immediately after a loved one goes missing to collect scent samples, you should collect and preserve scent samples for future use, before they are contaminated or destroyed.
Scent articles can by easily contaminated if they are handled or worn. Scent can be destroyed if the item is washed.
In selecting items to preserve, look for things the missing-person has recently worn, or handled extensively, but that no other person has worn or touched.
An article of clothing or an object that has scent from more than the missing person on it will not work as the K-9 may end up following the wrong person's scent.
Some of the best items to collect and secure for scent articles are recently-worn pieces of clothing, including:
Objects that may have the missing-person's scent on them include:
Avoid dirty clothing in a community laundry hamper or basket as it may be cross-contaminated with scent from other individuals in the household who also put their clothing in the hamper.
Avoid socks and footwear as they are often a problematic source of scent since they may contain extraneous odors from materials and adhesives used to manufacture the footwear.
To avoid cross-contaminating the missing-persons' scent items, avoid touching or handling them. If the articles are in a room only the missing-person used, consider closing the door and taping it shut.
If this is not possible, use a pair of sterile gloves (unused, and untouched on the outside) to collect each item, one at a time, and secure them in clean, unused paper bags, one item per bag (fold the top of the bag over and seal it with sticky tape and staples).
Label each container with an indelible marker, noting a description of the item, the missing person's name, the date and time of collection, and who collected the item.
Change your gloves before you collect another item to avoid cross-contamination, and never put two items in a single paper bag as if one is cross-contaminated with scent from someone other than the missing person, it may contaminate the other item, and cause the K-9 to follow a scent not from the missing-person.
People who say it cannot be done,
should not interrupt those who are doing it.
— Author unknown
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