Since Transportation Security Administration chief David Pekoske took the job as the nation's top transportation cop, his agency has pushed the message "Better Security Faster." Perhaps they should expand that to "Better Security Faster, Furrier and Floppier."
Pekoske has taken a keen interest in expanding the canine program at TSA and he wants those four-legged missions to have a more welcoming face.
After discussing with experts and partners, top TSA officials recently decided floppy-eared dogs, like Labrador retrievers, have a more friendly and calming effect on passengers, particularly children, than pointy-eared dogs, like German shepherds, according to TSA Assistant Administrator Michael Bilello. They are now focusing on enlisting more floppy-eared dogs as opposed to pointy-eared ones.
"You'll see parents kind of pull their kids away from a dog with pointy ears because, I think, we as a culture recognize that as a tactical dog or a police dog," Bilello told ABC News.
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Diesel (on the right) got a farewell kiss from his replacement, Sara, at his retirement ceremony last month at the Albuquerque International Sunport (ABQ). Diesel was a TSA explosives detection canine for 7-years! So what happens to retired canines? Do they buy a Winnebago and travel around the country? Well, in Diesel’s case, he was adopted by his handler, so he get to keep on living in the same home with the family he loves. Thanks for your service, Diesel! … TSA trains, and deploys both TSA-led and state and local law enforcement-led canine teams to secure our Nation’s transportation systems through effective explosives detection, visible deterrence, and timely, mobile response to support rail stations, airports, passenger terminals, seaports, surface carriers, and other facilities. … #DogsOfInstagram #TSACanines #WorkingDogs
Bilello told ABC News that TSA has found no behavioral or mission effectiveness differences between the dogs. The change is purely focused on image and branding, with the job coming first.
But don't worry about the jobs of our pointy-eared furry friends. No dog will lose its gig at TSA due to the new preference, the spokesperson said. Dogs with ears of both varieties will continue to be trained and put to work in order to meet the high demand for canine missions at the agency. TSA will give preference to the floppy-kind for passenger screening, when it has the opportunity.
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Wake up Maggie! We think we’ve got something to say to you! It’s almost September, and you really shouldn’t just sit there and drool. Just kidding! Maggie is a hard working doggo, and she deserves some rest every now and then. She’s an explosives detection canine and she works with her handler at the Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD). … TSA trains and deploys about 350 TSA-led and local law enforcement-led canine teams per year to operate in the aviation, multimodal, mass transit, and cargo environments. Once trained, these very effective, mobile teams can quickly locate and identify dangerous materials that may present a threat to transportation systems. The canines are often seen working in some of the nation’s largest airports. TSA has been training canines in explosives detection since 2001. … #TSACanines #WorkingDogs #DogsOfInstagram #TSA #IAD
"The health and operational capabilities of the dog supersedes the appearance of their ears," he said, adding the agency is sending a clear message that there's no need for their breeders to crop dogs ears, a controversial, but legal practice.
"If it's a healthy canine and it's trained and operationally capable, that's the first priority," Bilello told ABC News.
TSA does not provide numbers on how many dogs work for TSA and Bilello couldn't say if most are floppy-eared or pointy-eared. TSA canines, assisted by human handlers, are trained to sniff for explosives at airports, train stations, events and other places the agency is tasked with protecting. Expansion plans for the canine program include certifying dogs, belonging to third-party contractors, for cargo screening.