10/24/2014

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WSP training dogs to become bomb-sniffing pros

WSP training dogs to become bomb-sniffing pros
SEATTLE -- Bomb-sniffing dogs play an integral role in keeping us safe, and the Washington State Patrol is busy training more dogs to join the team.

The state patrol is just wrapping up a 13-week training session to certify dogs for the patrol's explosives-detection teams. And not just any dog will do.

"I'm looking for the dog that is completely crazy around the house, has so much energy that it's not good with people because it's just crazy," said WSP trooper Thomas Lundin.

Lundin said trainers focus that high-octane drive to search for bombs. The K-9 teams learn to detect more than a dozen types of explosives.

Trainers use toys to find out exactly what kind of dogs they're working with.

"We're looking for particular drives of the dog, whether they have that drive to posses that toy above anything else in the world," Lundin said.

The first step of training is harnessing the dog's keen sense of smell. A bomb-sniffing dog will need to be able to pick through competing odors, such as car exhaust, gas fumes or perfume, and zero in on the explosive.

A flat-coated retriever named Jessie was at the training session to be re-certified with a new handler. She's an old pro and quickly swept through the line-up to track down the explosive-scented training tool that was planted in the wheel well of a truck.

"They are able to pick through everything else, all the clutter of the odors in the air, and they are able to find just that one particular odor," Lundin said.

The training costs as much as $12,000 per dog, and the average K-9 career lasts roughly seven years. The seven dogs being trained now will take over for retiring dogs.
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