In? More floppy-eared dogs.
Out? Less pointy-eared canines.
The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has slowly begun phasing out pointy-eared, or working breed, dogs that it uses at airports to help sniff out explosives and drugs. Instead, it plans to employ more droopy-eared, or sporting breed, which is considered less menacing looking.
“We find the passenger acceptance of floppy ear dogs is just better. It presents just a little bit less of a concern,” TSA Administrator David Pekoske said. “Doesn’t scare children.”
The TSA utilizes more than 1,200 dogs nationwide to help protect airports. That number already includes more sporting breeds (Labrador Retrievers, German Shorthaired Pointers, Wirehaired Pointers, Vizslas, and Golden Retrievers) than working breeds (German Shepherds and Belgian Malinois), in large part because breeders are raising more droopy-eared dogs as it is.
In the last year, some 80 percent of the dogs TSA has purchased have been sporting breeds. About 400 dogs nationwide are used to help screen pages, but the other 800 or so are used elsewhere in the airport to sniff out explosives in baggage, not on people, and can be reassigned at any moment to local law enforcement in case of an emergency away from the airport.
TSA purchases the dogs from breeders and spends between $26,000 and $42,000 to train the canine with its human partner.
Fear not for the trusty and mighty German Shepherd or Belgian Malinois, however. Those breeds will not totally be eliminated and, in fact, a TSA spokesman said the government agency will still consider working breed dogs as long as they meet the criteria of being healthy; having an ability and willingness to detect odors, and its disposition to people and social abilities.
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