25 K-9 teams from 9 states join bloodhound scent tracking seminar

Published: Sep. 16, 2020 at 9:52 AM EDT
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - Twenty-five K-9 teams from nine states have converged on the Big Bend for specialized training this week. They are participating in the 13th annual Bloodhound Scent Tracking Seminar. The event is hosted by Tallahassee Community College’s Florida Public Safety Institute and will help save the lives of people who have gone missing.

The dogs are able to start with a small scent article and then track the trail helping to locate missing or runaway children, adults with alzheimer’s or even hunters who have gotten lost in the woods. Many working bloodhounds in Florida have been donated in memory of a child who was found too late.

“There’s no way to say that Jimmy Ryce’s life hasn’t saved others,” said Deputy Jeffrey David Turner of the Highlands County Sheriff’s Office. “To have a young life taken away so early and just the response by the family to turn around and make something of that and to try to keep that from happening to another person or child is just remarkable.”

It has been 25 years since 9-year-old Jimmy Ryce was abducted and killed, but his story is still helping others. Nearly half of the bloodhounds participating in the seminar this year were donated by the Jimmy Ryce Center. Trainers with FPSI said the body of a purebred bloodhound is like a tracking machine. The dog’s slobber rehydrates and enhances the scent. The floppy ears then waft that scent to their large nose, which has large glands inside that can transfer the information to their brain.

It Is a winning combination that Sgt. Frederick Gimbel of the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office has experienced first-hand.

“We started working with him on the road officially in October of last year and then right away in December, we found a child that was missing for like 30 minutes,” Sgt. Gimbel says.

Sgt. Gimbel and his bloodhound ‘Holmes,’ named after the famous detective Sherlock, were honored with the 2020 Jimmy Ryce Trailing Team of the Year Award. One participant says it is a rewarding job that people come from all over the United States to train for.

“Her first job was an elderly hunter who went out deer hunting and was six-hours past when he was supposed to return,” said Kimberly Maney, who is a firefighter from Three Lakes, Wisconsin.

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