Search dogs being trained to hunt down dementia patients who go missing
The Daily Mirror‘s Danny Buckland wrote on 2 March 2020:
Lowland Rescue in Swindon, Wiltshire, is training dogs as part of the Search Dog Heroes initiative, which will help the relatives of dementia patients.
(Image: North Downs Picture Agency)
Search dogs are being trained to track down dementia patients who go missing as part of a £1million scheme.
Around 100 are involved in the Search Dog Heroes initiative to help police, relatives and care workers bring vulnerable people back to safety.
The dogs are schooled for a year to 18 months and work with their owners, who are skilled handlers.
The first active search dog, Roo the labrador-springer spaniel, has already found a dementia patient who went missing from a care home in Berkshire.
The five-year-old and her owner Jo Armstrong, a volunteer with the Lowland Rescue service that is training the dogs, responded to the missing person’s scent that had been previously collected as a precaution.
Jane Brown of the Missing People charity said: “The dogs will be a great resource. Loved ones can be found quickly and returned home safely. The dog can be any breed. The important thing is their natural ability and enthusiasm.”
The scheme, funded by People’s Postcode Lottery’s Dream Fund, supplies kits for relatives and care staff to take scent samples from the hands on a sterile gauze that can be stored in a jar for up to a year.
Ms Brown added: “It’s a simple, non-invasive process. For the vast majority of people, it will never be used but it can be vital in emergencies and can also provide peace of mind for relatives.”
Missing People chief Jo Youle said: “These dogs will help save lives.”
Around 850,000 people in the UK are living with dementia and the numbers are projected to increase to 1.6 million by 2040, according to the Alzheimer’s Society.
Two dogs have been trained so far but up to 100 will be deployed nationally over the year in a free service.
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