Norfolk sheriff adds K9 to help sniff out missing persons as part of Project Lifesaver

Norfolk

NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — The Norfolk Sheriff’s Office is adding another tool to help find people with cognitive disorders, such as dementia, Alzheimer’s and autism, when they go missing.

K9 Bajos and his human deputy, David Klutts, are now certified to help with the Project Lifesaver program.

The duo has been training hard the past five months with the Chesapeake Police Department, which founded Project Lifesaver International in 1999.

“It’s pretty rigorous every day of repetition of tracking, just getting them used to the odor, getting them used to the find at the end, the different odors of different people,” Klutts told WAVY.

Project Lifesaver uses bracelets and tracking technology mounted to vehicles to locate missing people. When they get within a half-mile of the person wearing the bracelet, they hear a chirping sound which gets louder the closer they get.

The trouble is, sometimes the technology fails.

“Sometimes the batteries die. Sometimes the signal is weak. And then we can augment our search to help locate somebody with a dog,” said Sheriff Joe Barren.

Bajos can also find people hiding in areas off the beaten path.

Often, deputies told us the people who wander also run and hide. Baron recalled one rescue he was part of in the past.

“She was in a ditch this was in January, waist-up in water. If we hadn’t had her on Project Lifesaver, we wouldn’t have found her and she might have died,” he said.

The Norfolk Sheriff’s Office has rescued more than 400 missing people since it joined Project Lifesaver in 2001. Now with their new four-legged tool, they hope to help reunite even more families in the future.

The NSO Project Lifesaver Program is monitored 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

If you live in Norfolk and have a loved one who meets the Project Lifesaver eligibility requirements, contact Master Deputy Reed at 757-328-2485 or visit the sheriff’s office website.

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