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New $12 Million Facility for T.S.A Trained Bomb Sniffing Dogs
Photo: NY Times / Ilana Panich-Linsman

With terrorist attacks on the rise, people are becoming more at risk. Whether it be in the streets, or in an airport. It’s scary to think about being caught in a bombing situation where panic ensues and everybody fears for their lives. 

Although, the bombmakers may be getting more clever when it comes to hiding these deadly contraptions, so are the ways we can now detect the trouble…dogs! That’s right! These specially trained canines are taking their natural propensity for sniffing and using it to keep the world safe.

A new $12 million facility, built for the Transportation Security Administration on Lackland Air Force Base, is training dogs to become bomb-sniffers. Dogs that pass this intense 15-week training course will be deployed to the nation’s airports; a first line of defense against terrorist bomb attacks.

In fact, there are 900 dogs that work to ensure the airports, the aircraft and in turn the passengers are all good-to-go.

New $12 Million Facility for T.S.A Trained Bomb Sniffing Dogs
Photo: NY Times / Ilana Panich-Linsman

Ajax, a 2 year-old Labrador Retriever, is one of the 230 trainees currently learning the ropes of bomb detecting. He sniffs his way around a sparsely furnished room trying to pick up even the faintest of scents. On his third try, his fine-tuned nose reveals a suspicious odor coming from behind a piece of furniture near the front of the room.

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His reward for a job well done? His favorite squeaky toy that his trainer, Andrew Baxter, immediately gives him along with some high praise; “Good Boy!”

If you think detecting a bomb is relatively simple for these intune pups, think again. Bombs are now being hidden in all sorts of everyday materials, including using caulk to seal the substances in hopes of fooling the canine sniff-patrol. To counteract the felons attempts T.S.A trainers begin the dogs out by teaching them to identify the various chemicals used in common explosives such as TNT, C4, commercial dynamite and Semtex.

However, the real challenge for both dog and trainers is the fact that there is around 240 smokeless powders alone, so teaching a canine to detect all these individual odors can be a difficult if not an impossible task.

New $12 Million Facility for T.S.A Trained Bomb Sniffing Dogs
Photo: NY Times / Ilana Panich-Linsman

Surprisingly enough, dogs can detect a teaspoon of chemical in a million gallons of water. This is nearly enough to fill two Olympic-size swimming pools!

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The best breeds to do this important job are the Belgian Malinoises, Labrador Retrievers and the German Shorthair Pointers. Almost all of the dogs at Lackland are purchased mainly in Eastern Europe through a Defense Department program. They arrive when they are from one to one-and-a-half years-old to begin their important training.

We can all be a little more at ease with these lifesaving, bomb detection dogs on duty. The next time you are at an airport and see one of these clever canines sniffing their way through people’s luggage, smile and know that they are there to help you fly the skies with peace-of-mind.