Albany Airport Introduces TSA Bomb Sniffing Dogs
Albany International Airport’s security checkpoint has a new bomb squad of the sniffing, four-legged type. The Transportation Security Administration and the Albany County Airport Authority introduced the Albany, NY canine bomb squad, consisting of two Labrador Retrievers, Zelda and Seven, on Tuesday, February 26, at a press conference and demonstration at the airport.
These TSA bomb sniffing dogs are black Labs with the friendly personalities you would expect of their breed, but they come with a warning…
Though the dogs are adorable, their collars clearly state that they are
not to be petted….understandable with their important job of screening
passengers for explosives!
While the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has used German Shepherds in explosive detection in the past, Labs work well in passenger screening because of their friendliness, work ethic, and strong noses. Zelda and Seven live with their handler, who has been trained to pick up on the dog’s cues and respond appropriately. They have been trained since birth to detect explosives by recognizing odors on a person who is moving or still, present or recently passed through, and tracking them.
The dogs, who charmed travelers and airport personnel at the Albany, NY demonstration, can expect to spend five to seven years on the job. The dogs will mainly be used during peak travel times, and travelers will still have to remove their shoes and other items when going through the security checkpoint. The cost of having the two dogs at the airport (and two more in the near future), is paid for by the TSA, who has already invested $218,000 in training, certification, housing, and the handler’s salary. The annual cost (including the handler’s salary) is $158,000 per team.
Albany International Airport is one of 28 airports in the country using dogs to detect explosives. Why Albany, NY? TSA officials say they want to introduce the program where they feel welcomed, and the good relationship between the Albany County Airport Authority, local law enforcement, and the TSA made Albany International Airport a good choice.
Tell us, will a canine bomb squad make you feel safer at the airport?