Program using K-9s to track at-risk loved ones expands

One state representative is making it his mission to prepare dogs that will find at-risk people who wander away from home.

State Representative Scott Plakon tried to cuddle up to K-9 Daisy while posing for a picture. She's the K-9 he named for his late wife, Susie. Daisies were her favorite flower. 

"Then seeing Daisy walk into the room, it was a pretty emotional moment to know that our loss of Susie has resulted in what’s going to be so much good happening," he said. 

Two years ago, Plakon's wife, Susie, died of early on-set Alzheimer's. Since then, he's gotten funding for the Bringing Home the Lost program in eight counties in Florida. 

The program is for homes with at-risk residents, including those with Alzheimer's, dementia and autism. Pariticipants receive a scent evidence K-9 kit with a jar and a swab.

"If you just take a swab of a loved one, other scents come into it so this is a way of getting the pure scent of that person," said Rep. Plakon, (R) Longwood.

So if a loved one wanders off and the sheriff's office is called, their K-9 can sniff the scent and find that loved one.

Plakon's wife had wandered off several times.

"We found her about 15 houses away. She had wandered into one of our neighbor's  homes and was actually doing their dishes. Thankfully, that had a happy ending, but some of these don’t."

In two years, Plakon has gotten $300,000 in funding for the program.

Seminole County has distributed 610 kits and luckily hasn't had to use them. But now, more K-9's like Daisy will be ready if they have to be.

"We think that this is going to save a number of lives and bring comfort to loved ones."