Everyone can picture a pooch with their muzzle inches off the ground, sniffing for the remnants of a long lost scent trail. And while no human could even fathom a whiff, within minutes the pooch is off and running after some invisible prey with their human companion hot on their heels.
Dog owners might have some complaints about their furry friends’ weird habits, like lollygagging around an aromatic tree stump during what is supposed to be a brisk morning walk. That said, the canine sense of smell can be put to good use. Just ask members of the Transportation Security Administration at Detroit Metropolitan Airport how they feel about their bomb sniffing dogs.
Bomb Sniffing Dogs Are Keeping Travelers Safe
Skift reported the new TSA employees’ responsibilities at the airport in Romulus, Michigan, where an extra layer of security is added through specially trained bomb sniffing dogs, including black Labrador retriever Nestle. She’s one of the latest hires as a passenger screening canine who sniffs around suitcases, jackets and shoes to determine if there are any explosive odors to be detected.
The TSA has employed Nestle and other canines to locate potential threats at security checkpoints all over Detroit Metropolitan Airport. With four specially trained dogs, the safety administration hopes to add improved layers of protection to incoming and outgoing passengers at the facility. What separates these pooches from others is the extensive, specialized training they undergo prior to deployment.
According to the TSA, canines and their handlers participate in a two-month training course at Lackland Air Force Base in Texas. Each week, the teams engage in several hours of proficiency exercises in environments that simulate airport operations. This includes the smells and distractions commonly associated with mass transit hubs, including bus terminals and train stations. While active, these teams can screen more than 400 passengers in an hour, which can significantly improve the process as a whole with no reductions in security levels.
Dogs’ sense of smell is one of their most powerful assets, which makes them ideal for bomb sniffing, hunting, search and rescue, and many other useful roles.
Finding the cream of the crop
While all pooches have exceptional noses, some happen to be superior to others. DogTime explained that specific breeds are best suited for sniffing tasks. Examples of champion-sniffing dogs include:
- German Shorthaired Pointer: These pooches have exceptional scenting and trailing abilities that make them perfectly suited for hunting trips in open fields. With their noses pressed low to the ground, Pointers can follow scents intensely without looking up.
- English Springer Spaniel: These popular sporting canines are bred to either be show or field dogs, depending on owners’ preferences. The field Springers are prized hunters for their sense of smell, which allows them to detect a range of scents such as explosives, narcotics, counterfeit money and human remains.
- Beagle: Fresh off a Westminster victory, this hound breed has as many scent receptors as the larger German Shepherd. These pooches are even used by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service to detect contraband in airports. Beagles on the job have recognized almost 50 different odors for the USDA.
Even with strong noses, canines need to be well cared for to maintain their sniffing abilities. Owners should sign up for PetPlus to purchase dog medication and other products that promote fit pooches.