Charlotte County K-9 unit dog has success finding missing-endangered people

A hero stepped into action to help find a missing man in distress.

A special K-9 unit dog made a name for himself on the force at Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office after he successfully located multiple missing people over the past few months.

Among those recently, Copper, the CCSO K-9 unit dog, helped to save the life of a suicidal man.

Deputy First Class Steven Sella and his partner, Copper, work against crime and to put families at ease.

“The purpose of us is to go out and find missing-endangered persons who have wandered away from home, or there’s some type of risk of their well-being or safety,” Sella explained.

Their latest mission was to find a missing, suicidal man. He left his home in Englewood East early Wednesday morning.

Charlotte County deputies found his vacant car close by, and then, Sella and Copper’s powerful nose went to work.

“Every human has an odor that comes off their body as they walk,” Sella said. “That odor then falls on the ground or slightly floats in the air, and he’s able to pick up that odor and follow it.”

Sella gathered a scent sample from the man’s car door handle.

“You’ll see [Copper] turning his head left and right and trying to make sure he’s staying on task for that odor,” Sella said.

The two followed the missing man’s scent for 10 minutes and found him unharmed. He made it about a quarter of a mile from his home.

“It was a sigh of relief, knowing that what he was experiencing, what he was going through, being able to find him alive and well and get him back home,” Sella said.

Sella thinks of Copper as a fellow deputy.

“To me, he’s another human being that has a benefit that I don’t,” Sella said.

The Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office has free scent detection kits available for people who are prone to wander. Anyone interested can contact CCSO at 941-639-2101 or 941-474-3233 to inquire about a kit.

Reporter:Erika Jackson
Writer:Jack Lowenstein
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