Should You Save a Sample of Your Child’s Scent for the Search Dogs? A Follow-Up

Readers, anittkhtnh
After my post about the $19.95 “Find’Em” scent kit that saves your child’s scent to share with the search and rescue dogs, one of you, a Mr. Adams, complained to the company on Facebook about its home page, which declares: “In the U.S. a Child Goes Missing Every 40 Seconds.” Mr. Adams wrote:

It is absolutely abhorrent that you use such ridiculous and untrue scare tactics to peddle your wares. The statistic you cite has no relation whatsoever to the actual (extremely small) number of kids who are abducted and need to be “tracked.” Shameful. 

Find’em Scent Kit replied:

I’m sorry you feel that way Mr. Adams. I don’t know your background in what you do so I’m going to keep it short and professional. I can say I do know what happens to some of our unfortunate missing children from both my partner and my on the job experiences. When it goes bad it really goes bad.

Statistics are statistics. If I can help educate our country on how effective a tool like the Find’em Scent Kit is during that unforseen event when it takes place then we might just save a life. Why don’t you talk to a family that’s had a child kidnapped and killed. Ask them if they would be interested in a kit like ours for less than .5 cents a day. Seems like a no brainer to me and everyone that hears about it. But you’re right, it is a small number as a whole; however, there is still to many lives lost though and one life lost is one to many.

To which Mr. Adams replied:

Thank you for your thoughtful reply. I don’t have anything against your product. I view it as similar to certain kinds of insurance companies sell that won’t be used, but make people feel better. I suspect that such a product would be useful if a kids got lost in the woods, but most kids who are abducted aren’t found alive by police dogs. As you probably know from the FBI records, that most recently looked at a decade’s worth of data, that true stranger abductions account for .0068% of all kidnappings, with the majority being during a family dispute.

My concern is more philosophical. Despite the fact that crime is at historic lows, most Americans believe crime is way up. They also believe abductions are up (they are not) shootings are up (they are down) and that kids are in constant danger. Everyone from the 24/7 news hysteria machine to companies selling products work tirelessly to scare the wits out of parents. Most schools in the U.S. are now prisons in permanent lock-down. You just about have to give a DNA sample to get in the door. Men are treated with great suspicion (especially middle-aged white guys like me), and all in the name of preventing every possible incident that might happen in this big, bad world.

And Find’em wrote back:

Mr. Adams, I think we’re both talking about two different concerns. Although I do agree that society has us focused on all negative topics (especially the nightly news) and scare tactics may be insurance and other companies marketing strategies it’s not Find’em’s. We’re merely trying to point out how important it is to have an uncontaminated scent article present when that incident of a missing person takes place. Our kit is that tool that a family can proactively purchase to ensure that there is one more safety step put in place for their loved ones.

To be honest with you we focus on a very broad audience, not just the small number of kidnapping victims. We focus on the 49% of children with Autism that wander away from a safe environment. This summer alone I lost track that over 10 of those children drowned. That doesn’t include the others that didn’t arrive back home alive because they were struck by a car etc. I know this because I personally still work a hound and track a lot of special needs children.

Our Alzheimer’s population is around 5.5 million and is continually growing. Estimated by 2040 we will reach 13.2 million. Baby boomers are part of the reason why. The elderly are walking away and dying because of dyhidration and hypothermia when weather is at its extreme conditions. Point is people go missing every minute and K9’s are used more and more to help locate them both alive and dead. The reason why you want a kit like ours is because your giving the dog team a single scent source of the potential missing person that was directly obtained from the body not from something touched or an article of clothing which has been contaminated by others scent or chemicals which can blow out a K9’s nose. As handlers we use the best (scent article) we can find or have access to (not easy most of the time) it forces us to guess and rely on the K9 way to much. It’s not always a good article and there are times that K9 won’t track when you need to. We try to post as many successful tracking finds that we can. Unfortunately that is a job in itself. Here is one that came out a few days ago that will show you a success.…

The handler that found this kid will attest to the importance of the Find’em Scent Kit. Thank you for being respectful as share your concerns. Awareness has been our biggest hurdle in educating our society.   Respectfully sent

And finally, Mr. Adams wrote back:

Again, thank you for your response. It’s clear that you are passionate about what you are doing. Maybe you could broaden your marketing scope and gain a bigger audience by highlighting those areas more. I see them on your web site, but I had to look for them. Maybe a bit of tweaking on the banner page is in order, especially with regard to the elderly. There is a looming elder crisis in America where your product might be of value. But I wouldn’t know that if I came across your site on the first click. So there are my two cents. I greatly respect the fact that you kept this exchange on your FB page and did not remove it, as many businesses would do. Best of luck in your endeavors. – 

How civil! I agree with Mr. Adams, the page is terrifying and misleading. Also, the article about the boy who was found alive by a rescue dog — thank goodness —  does not mention anything about the family having had this kit on hand.  It appears the child was found without the aid of one.

But I do love the spirit of dialog, and salute the Find’em folks for writing back. And I especially love the  idea of asking companies — and politicians — to explain their evidence and rationale. It’s a great habit to get into! – L.

Most likely we are not in your future!

We smell fear!  

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29 Responses to Should You Save a Sample of Your Child’s Scent for the Search Dogs? A Follow-Up

  1. Larry Austin December 14, 2014 at 10:45 pm #

    That was a great example of real dialogue of opposing views that came to a consensus of reasonable people and narrowed down what each side was actually concerned with. Nice job!

  2. MichaelF December 15, 2014 at 5:47 am #

    Here I thought civil debate was dead in this country. wow!

    I do agree they should promote the alternatives more, I did click through their site and found the references to the elderly at least – whom I thought would be a better target audience for this anyway. The children angle I found as more scare mongering, but the special needs and elderly I see as needing something like this more.

  3. SOA December 15, 2014 at 7:05 am #

    I appreciate the guy’s civil discourse and he is right-there might be a need for this kit for autism wanderers or altheizmer patients. That is what they should really lead with. Because that is not a rare event. Those events happen regularly. I have an autism wanderer myself. I know how they can just wander off. Not because they were abducted but because they see something shiny and head to it or they want to escape their current location so they just take off.

    I don’t think I need a kit since we don’t really live near woods and he is not a super common wanderer, but there is definitely some people that could use it.

    He should have lead with that.

  4. Crystal December 15, 2014 at 9:00 am #

    I appreciate the tone both parties kept. It’s nice seeing a bit of good news, no matter how small.

  5. Romeo Sid Vicious December 15, 2014 at 9:11 am #

    I think I’d have more faith in the company if the person replying could spell “dehydration” properly. The grammar in the replies from the manufacture is utterly atrocious. I can’t see a professional that’s trying to refute claims, as the Find’em team is here, being alright with that sort of response. I know my grammar isn’t perfect but it’s really sad that those responses were deemed acceptable.

    They also offer no evidence whatsoever to back the claim of “contaminated by others scent or chemicals which can blow out a K9’s nose”. Or any evidence that their kit is any better than a recently worn article of clothing. In fact they offer no evidence whatsoever for any of their claims.

    The even demonstrate worst-first thinking on the front page of the site with the statement “Protect yourself from the “what if” situation.” For God’s sake, that’s a useless term. I can protect myself from zombies all day long and it’s useless preparation.

    I see claims that wandering disabled children are a common occurrence as well as the elderly with dementia but no statistics to actually back up those claims either. I will admit to not knowing those numbers but I doubt it’s actually all that common or even tracked all that well. Citing scary news stories certainly doesn’t show us what the real world brings to the table in either situation.

    The entire marketing angle is one of fear with no evidence at all to back the approach this company is taking. It’s the same marketing tactic used by the folks who build underground bunkers for the prepper community. I appreciate that they are willing to have discourse about their product but unless they change their scare tactics and produce some evidence for their claims then I won’t have anything to do with them. I mean why can I buy some Nitrile gloves, some large gauze pads, and some Ziplock bags as needed?

  6. brian December 15, 2014 at 9:14 am #

    We didn’t receive a single example where this product saved a life. It is being sold based on fear not reality.

    I would also say that for the elderly and autistic, a GPS tracker would seem a much more efficient tool for finding them. The dog scent thing really is only when the person is missing in places without cell service (like in a cave or the woods) or if an abductor stripped them of the device.

  7. Jill December 15, 2014 at 9:32 am #

    Nice work by Mr. Adams. I still think the FInd ‘Em Scent person should be held accountable for spreading misinformation by proclaiming that a child goes missing every 40 seconds. Maybe they do, if “missing” means, “Where’s little Timmy? Oh, he’s next door, playing with Bobby,” but that’s not the implication that the website is making.
    They’d be better off focusing on wandering dementia patients and autistic people and not using fear of stranger abduction to sell their product.

  8. Peter December 15, 2014 at 10:16 am #

    The first Find’em response says the cost of this kit is “less than .5 cents a day”. Does that mean the kit expires at some point, and needs to be renewed? I couldn’t find that info on their site.
    The price on their site is $19.95. At half a penny per day, that should last about five and a half years. However, if the person who wrote the response suffers from a common form of innumeracy, they may mean “less than 5 cents a day”, which means the scent kit lasts for only 1 year. Then what? Send in another $19.95?

  9. marie December 15, 2014 at 10:49 am #

    We’re merely trying to point out how important it is to have an uncontaminated scent article present when that incident of a missing person takes place.

    When. Not if.

    Someone who “works a hound” is going to see more uses for a hound than the rest of us will. Just as someone who sells the Find’em kit will see more uses for it. LOL. Maybe he’s polite but that only makes him a polite scammer.

  10. Mark Davis December 15, 2014 at 11:42 am #

    I agree that the copy on the website is abhorrent, but to be fair, Mr Adams himself exaggerates in his own arguments. To wit:

    “Most schools in the U.S. are now prisons in permanent lock-down. You just about have to give a DNA sample to get in the door. Men are treated with great suspicion…”

    Our schools are not “prisons in permanent lockdown”. You do not have to give a DNA sample to get in. These statements both stretch the truth as much as the original statistic Mr Adams argues against, and belie the same kind of hysteria.

    Hyperbole like this is part of what we are fighting against, and it damages our own credibility when we use it too.

  11. Mark Davis December 15, 2014 at 11:50 am #

    Another criticism of Mr Adams’ communique: politely arguing against something that is the foundation of the business model the company uses seems (to me) obviously pointless. It serves only to elicit more of the same hyperbole from his correspondent so we can further insult or humiliate the company. We couldn’t possibly expect to convince him of our point of view in this manner.

    This is not the way to further our cause. We should instead be focusing on showing by example how the world really is a safe place to go out in, and when we change enough (consumers’) minds, these products will go away because market for them will dwindle to the point that they’re not profitable.

  12. Brooks December 15, 2014 at 11:53 am #

    Come on, Mr. Davis, can’t I throw in a bit of hyperbole every once and a while? I was just making a point. I guess my dry sense of humor didn’t make it through. However, in my defense, I’ll go through the comments I made that you highlighted:

    “Most schools in the U.S. are now prisons in permanent lock-down.” Ok, that was hyperbole, Guilty as charged. However, in my small suburb,where nothing has EVER happened at a school, there are now mag-lock, bullet-proof doors and the schools are indeed “locked-down” during the day. One can gain entry after having a verbal interview with the person at the front desk through the camera and intercom system, if you are a dad. Most moms get buzzed in without the interrogation. I would note that ALL the staff thinks it’s ridiculous. It came down from the superintendent and the system’s requisite army of lawyers.

    “You just about have to give a DNA sample to get in the door.” Ok, I made that up. Again, guilty. You do have to sign a lot of forms to volunteer for anything.

    “Men are treated with great suspicion…” I’ll stand by this one. I travel world-wide and only encounter the fear of a parent grabbing a child from my path, for example, in the US. It happens in my neighborhood, at the store, in the airport, in restaurants, etc. It’s not usually overt – more of the suspicious look, the tightening of the hand on the child’s hand, etc. I will note that I haven’t been to Great Britain in a long time – another country where this is rampant. So I don’t know what the response would be there.

    Anyway, you do make a valid point. I could have easily stuck to facts. They are silly enough.
    Mr. Adams

  13. Jill December 15, 2014 at 12:06 pm #

    I happen to enjoy hyperbole, and I salute Mr. Adams for his use of it.
    Politely calling out scammers who try and foist useless products on the public through lies and fear is an honorable thing to do.
    Off-topic, I like to imagine Mr. Adams going to his neighborhood maximum security school, leering into the security camera and sinisterly intoning, “I’m looking for a child.”

  14. Ravana December 15, 2014 at 12:48 pm #

    I’m trying to figure out how often one would need to update the stored scent. Human body chemistry (and thus scent) changes from day to day and makes huge leaps at various stages of life. Your child’s scent at age two is completely different from his scent at age four.

  15. Michelle December 15, 2014 at 12:49 pm #

    “Another criticism of Mr Adams’ communique: politely arguing against something that is the foundation of the business model the company uses seems (to me) obviously pointless. It serves only to elicit more of the same hyperbole from his correspondent so we can further insult or humiliate the company. We couldn’t possibly expect to convince him of our point of view in this manner.”

    I kind of agree with this. On my Instagram account, I post photos relating to my interest in fitness and weight loss, so of course I get a lot of spammers trying to sell me those body wrap things. So I posted an image calling them out, saying that they were harassing me (since my profile clearly says I don’t want to buy that garbage but I kept getting requests anyway), and pointing out that it’s all hokum anyway. My hope was to educate others about the product being a scam, but all I accomplished was getting more salespeople who were *really* dedicated to trying to get me to buy body wraps so they could “prove” to me that it really works.

    Worse, it gives them a platform to convince others. The above Facebook conversation makes the Find’em people sound reasonable if you don’t already grasp how they are fearmongering. In my dealings with the It Works! body wrap people, I tried to argue studies and science, and they responded by pointing me to graphics and websites *they created* as evidence. In the end, I just looked like I was too stubborn to accept “facts” that they had actually made up.

    The Bible has an expression for this kind of situation: throwing pearls before swine.

  16. SOA December 15, 2014 at 1:30 pm #

    Here are the stats on autistic kids wondering- It specifically said nearly half of all autistic kids wander/elope. I know mine has and he is high functioning and there were still times he just completely ran away. He ran away at school several times away from the playground across the parking lot. He ran away within the building to where they could not find him. He is really hard to keep up with at events because if he sees something interesting he just takes off.

    Now all little kids say 5 and under can do the above- but my son is 7 and growing and still doing it sometimes. He may do it to a point forever. His typical brother learned about 4 that when I say stay here I mean stay here and can follow that 100% of the time. His brother cannot.

  17. Flurry December 15, 2014 at 1:51 pm #

    But the fact remains, even if this would be useful for autistic wanderers or dementia patients, isn’t it almost 100% likely that something with that person’s scent on it is already in the home, eliminating the need to pay money to store it?

  18. Tsu Dho Nimh December 15, 2014 at 1:57 pm #

    You know when this would be absolutely useless?
    * Any time a child is taken away in a vehicle, or hops a bus.
    * Any time a child falls into water and goes under.

    Of dubious usefulness in a place like NYC because of the traffic and large numbers of people.

    Scent samples are VERY useful for cases when a child has strayed from a suburban or rural home as in the example of child down a manhole, or goes missing from a camp site or hike … but then it’s usually easy to get a sample.

    Parents are usually instructed to NOT touch the child’s belongings and the handler selects what he/she knows will work. A T-shirt, the child’s dirty sheets or sleeping bag, sporting gear … many things will retain enough scent.

    A friend of my dad’s raised and trained bloodhounds as tracking dogs and would “borrow” me and other children for practice runs. They would give us several hours head start, up to a day if we wanted to camp out, and then try to track us from where we officially “disappeared. Scent would be our sheets, pajamas or yesterday’s clothing from the hamper – real world stuff.

    We were forbidden to use vehicles, except for bicycles, but every other trick we had ever read about to fool the hounds was fair game. We crossed creeks, we walked fences, we broke and reformed groups … and none of it worked.

    The hounds could track us as fast as their handler could move, and we would get slurped and slobbered when we were caught.

    You don’t always need scent. Some SAR dogs are trained to look for “humans out here I don’t know” generically, like bird dogs look for quail. They aren’t following a scent trail, they are running a search pattern. Their handlers work out in front of the main search group, with the dog searching the bushes for ANY human it can find.

  19. Jill December 15, 2014 at 3:48 pm #

    @Michelle: There’s a difference. The people who are trying to sell you body wraps on your Instagram account aren’t telling you that if you don’t use their product something horrible may befall one of your loved ones. They’re also not using false and misleading information to try and convince you that women who fail to use their body wrap turn blue and then explode into flames.

  20. Eric S December 15, 2014 at 4:10 pm #

    I’m glad to hear that Mr. Adams didn’t submit to Find’em Scent Kit broad views of “safety”. After a civil dialogue between the two, and Mr. Adams making valid and precise points, FSK sounded like they started back tracking and focusing on the broader use of their product. I take this as their common sense and logic getting a kicked in the nuts by Mr. Adams, and they could not dispute his argument. So they veered away from the focus on children and their potential, but highly unlikely scenarios. And focused on the elderly and mentally challenged.

    As Mr. Adams implies. It’s not the product, or even the intention behind the product. It’s the marketing, and scheme in which they use to draw in customers. Just like there is such a thing as irresponsible media, there’s also irresponsible business practices by many companies to make profit. Their tactics affect people’s mentality and views in the long run. Sure they’ll make a crap load of money, but they would have also contributed to the ever growing fear spread across the nation, and around the world that never existed, or at least existed only in the very few’s head. These days, those fears are from the majority of the population. Common sense and reasoning is the minority now. All because of media, organizations, and companies trying to push their own agendas primarily for their own benefits.

  21. Eric S December 15, 2014 at 4:19 pm #

    The most ironic part, is that none of these “safety” products existed 20+ years ago. It’s only in this day and age. And all of us that grew up in the 80s and earlier, are still alive and well. Ok, a great majority of us.

    Why? Well, in hindsight, I’d like to think it was because our parents taught us who fend and protect ourselves in the real world. They taught us how to become smarter and resourceful, so that we can use these as we get older. I think it’s safe to say, that previous generations were more street smart by the age of 8, than most kids these days at the age of 14.

  22. Warren December 15, 2014 at 5:42 pm #

    Actually depending on the breed of dog, the child being in a vehcile does not change a thing. Vehicles continually exchange air with the outside. I watched a documentary on dogs where a bloodhound actually tracked the scent down the highway for miles, and would not give up. This dog had to be forced to rest and hydrate. Something like twenty miles down the interstate the dog followed the turnoff, and they found the person they were looking for.

    Dogs ability to pick up scents is not even measurable as can their commitment.

  23. SOA December 15, 2014 at 9:00 pm #

    Eric-well to be fair autism was not as rampant in the past as it is now. We also have more elderly people that live long enough to get dementia due to healthcare improving.

    I still would not purchase this product. I am thinking something in the house would have my son’s scent on it if they needed to use hounds. His lovey toy that never gets washed and is always with him for example. He even has multiple versions of it so they all have his scent.

  24. Trishwah December 15, 2014 at 10:00 pm #

    finally, a justification for the laundry backlog at my house.

  25. oncefallendotcom December 16, 2014 at 1:13 am #

    I must be part dog because upon seeing this article I immediately smelled a trail of bovine excrement.

  26. Mark Davis December 16, 2014 at 1:25 am #

    Brooks: I understand, that you were exaggerating for effect (and humor) and not being literal. But honest and rational assessment of facts is core to our message, and exaggeration clouds the issue in (IMO) a detrimental manner.

    FWIW my kids’ schools are not secured in any way; whenever I go there I walk through unchallenged no matter what time of day it is. Supposedly visitors are supposed to sign in at the office but I don’t think anyone ever does. (And in case you think that’s situational, FYI I live in the SF Bay Area.)

    I think it’s very easy for us to fall into the same trap that the society we are trying to reform has already fallen into: they are considering things that happen quite rarely and convincing themselves (and trying to convince everyone else) that they are commonplace and that something needs to be done. But likewise, as far as I can tell, these extreme reactions to perceived fears or statistically improbable events are also quite uncommon, and we do ourselves a disservice by stooping to their level and blowing things out of proportion to get attention.

  27. Ben December 16, 2014 at 10:31 am #

    What exactly is the point of a kit like this? If a police dog needs to track down a kid, they can take the scent from a dirty piece of clothing from the hamper or from a favorite stuffed toy. I don’t see the added value of the kit, even if it does turn out to be the right set of circumstances to use.

  28. Puzzled December 17, 2014 at 12:18 pm #

    Hmm, hound SAR professional sees a lot of kids who need to be found by hounds, falsely concludes that this happens to a large proportion of children. Film at 11.

  29. Tsu Dho Nimh December 18, 2014 at 7:10 pm #

    No saved scent beyond what was in the house, and the dog pretty much went right to the guy.