Some of the most important security missions across mass transportation systems are in the hands or paws of canines.
Currently throughout the nation, there are more than 1,000 canine teams part of the Transportation Security Administration’s National Explosives Detection Canine Program in charge of screening cargo and passengers.
The TSA Explosive Detection Canines and Passenger Screening Canines are trained at JBSA Lackland. The dogs are wired for smell. They’re hand-picked for personality, ability and mindset and are able to break down odors that humans quite simply, can’t.
Trainers travel abroad over to Europe (to pick the canines). They also utilize a number of stateside vendors that they partner with that are here in the United States, and they procure dogs that must meet a number of tests.
The length of training varies depending on their task. Distractors like food, noise and people are integrated to the training to make sure nothing throws off the canines.
They have 17 indoor training facilities and six outdoor venues, and those consist of a various different types of situation or venues such as… a wide body aircraft. They have rail cars, trolleys, have static vehicles, and have luggage labs. Everything that you can think of in a mass transit or airport type environment is what they expose these canines to.
Currently throughout the nation, there are 1,097 certified teams in assigned strategic locations. About 250 to 300 dogs are currently in training with their handler to take part in anti-terrorism activity.
These dogs and their Handlers spend 24 hours a day together. These dogs live at the house. They’re part of the family.
Work for these teams requires a high level of concentration and physical activity to provide peace of mind to passengers and employees.
The one role of TSA is to help prevent any kind of terrorist attack or any type of attack on an airplane and in transportation (sites) in general. The dogs are an added layer of protection. They really help to detect bombs, bomb-making equipment, any type of explosive devices that people may bring that want to do harm on a plane.
Some dogs will screen passengers (through) what they call the vapor wake. As the passengers pass, they search behind them. (Passengers) will leave a vapor trail for them to go into and find the odors that they’re trained on.
These canines scent receptors allow them to break down odors.
The next time you’re going through the airport give thanks for these highly trained teams and their capability to keep us safe. If you’re lucky you may even spot one!