New Explosives Detecting Dog at Houston's Airports

Houston's airports have another canine bomb unit on the job. The explosives detecting dog is provided by the Transportation Security Administration. Houston Public Radio's Laurie Johnson reports.

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Houston now has nine Explosives Detection Canine Teams, thanks to a partnership between the TSA and the Houston Police Department. George Bush Intercontinental Airport Federal Security Director Art Meinke says the canine program started in 1972 after a bomb threat on a TWA flight.

"They got a bomb threat, returned the airplane to New York and they were lucky enough to have a explosive dog working there. That explosive dog found the explosive 12 minutes before it was supposed to go off."

Two more canine explosives units will be added to the Houston delegation by the end of the year. The new unit, consisting of HPD Officer Adolph Parker and Canine Tomy, finished in first place in their training at Lackland Air Force Base.

"We'll do a couple hours in the terminal, public visibility, basically just searching the terminals. We'll go to cargo every day to search the cargo just for, you know, baggage. We'll be available for calls, someone find an unattended bag we'll be available to search that bag. A vehicle left on the up ramp unattended, we'll search that vehicle and make sure there's no explosives in those vehicles."

Each canine unit covers both Intercontinental and Hobby Airports. Officer Parker says a 20-year veteran of the canine department recently retired and gave him some advice for the job.

"Train like you're going to find something. And he said within your 15 to 20 years of being canine, if God lets you stay there that long, he said you will find something, so train as if you're going to find something. And in this day and age with terrorism going on, I will train as hard as I can because I hope not, but we train hoping that we don't find anything but the possibilities are most definitely higher than they have ever been."

The TSA provides the dogs and all the necessary training for the program. It's the only government certified explosives detecting program in the nation. Laurie Johnson, Houston Public Radio News.

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