In the fight against terror, nothing is more important than awareness and prevention. This is primarily achieved through the use of dogs trained to sniff out both bombs and explosives. They regularly ensure safety of packages, public places like shopping malls, airports, cruise ships, and events like marathons and concerts. Dogs make sure these areas are safe for the people who gather there.
However, times are rapidly changing in the United States of America, and terrorists are increasingly attacking what are known as, “soft targets.” These types of targets are public events where hundreds or even thousands of people are gathered. This means that as attacks have risen, so has the need for detection dogs to keep us safe. Dogs are an incredibly expensive proposition, typically costing $25,000 or more, which also means that it is becoming increasingly more difficult to train them properly and purchase the dogs.
More so, advances in technology pale in comparison to the precision and accuracy of a dog, so there is not a suitable replacement. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has a National Canine Training Center at the Lackland Airforce Base in San Antonio that is solely used to train bomb sniffing dogs. This state of the art facility is home to dogs in training, working to sniff out explosives in mock airports, train terminals, and cars created solely for training purposes. The TSA currently has 1,000 trained dogs, but needs to acquire 350 more each year to replace dogs that retire at age 8-10.
This means agents must visit Europe to acquire new dogs, but are competing against buyers from other countries and often can’t afford the steep purchase prices. Many domestic breeding and training facilities have popped up in the United States, but there needs to be a more permanent solution to the shortage in order to provide the protection needed by the United States.