The newest member of the Arlington Fire Department in Texas is a 72-pound Yellow Lab named Brickman, according to a recent article.
“Brickman, who arrived in April, is the first of two bomb-sniffing dogs the Fire Department plans to add,” said writer Mitch Mitchell. “The next dog is expected in January.”
The U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) got Brickman from the Puppies In Prison Program which uses prison inmates to raise service dogs for the blind and for agency’s use, says Mitchell.
The Arlington dogs will be used to search facilities where large crowds gather, according to Mitchell.
A dog’s nose is hundreds of times more sensitive than the human nose, depending on the odor, according to the article.
“What a dog can do in 30 minutes, it would take a team of 20 men a whole day to do,” said Paul Waggoner, director of the Canine and Detection Research Institute at Auburn University in a recent interview.
“Dog and man must form a team to accomplish their mission,” said Terry Bohan, chief of the ATF canine-training and support branch. “It’s not a good idea, for instance, to match a 100-pound dog with a 120-pound trainer. Brickman seems to take to Darin.”
According to Pat Beltz of Work Dogs International, canine tasking is not interchangeable.
Bomb-sniffing dogs also patrol areas like Maryland Transit Systems to sniff out explosives on subways and buses, using three German Shepherds. Launched in August he Mass Transit Canine Initiative expands on a training program that involved 400 dogs at 77 airports nationwide.
According to research, male dogs are better as sniffing out bombs than females because they have a heightened sense of smell.
A typical workday for Bara, a bomb-sniffing dog consists of a ten-hour shift. She and her trainer must pass a yearly exam to remain active.
Do bomb sniffing dogs makes mistakes? Sure, as one recently cleared a station under a false alarm.
At the Champ Assistance Dogs Program in Missouri, staff travels to a prison once a week to assist with their Puppies In Prison Program which helps raise bomb-sniffing dogs.
“The trainers have found that this program is about so much more than just training dogs because they have learned how to give back to the community, learn job skills, and interact socially,” said Jackie Thomas, Housing Unit Manager at the prison. “It helps them get transitioned back into the community.”