The Daily Wire is reporting today that the TSA will be replacing many of its pointy-eared dogs at airports with floppy-eared dogs. It seems that children are less scared of the floppy-eared dogs. So this decision was made not on the basis of public safety, but on the basis of children who might be intimidated by dogs with pointy ears.
The article reports:
“We find the passenger acceptance of floppy ear dogs is just better. It presents just a little bit less of a concern,” Pekoske added. “Doesn’t scare children.”
My former Examiner colleague Anna Giaritelli reports that the TSA currently has 1,200 doggos across the country performing security checks, and about 80% have floppy ears (such as Labradors or Golden Retrievers). In order to phase out the remaining 20%, the TSA is replacing retiring pointed-ear dogs with their floppy-eared cousins. Further, the TSA is purchasing sporting or hunting breeds, since they are easier to find.
“TSA uses five types of sporting breeds: Labrador Retrievers, German Short-haired Pointers, Wirehaired Pointers, Vizslas, and Golden Retrievers,” Giaritelli wrote. “It also uses two types of pointy-ear, or working breed, dogs: the German Shepherd and Belgian Malinois.”
Christopher Shelton, branch manager of the San Antonio, TX, canine training center, told Giaritelli that the TSA wouldn’t rule out a pointy-eared pup just because of his or her ears. The dog’s health, willingness and ability to sniff out security risks and its disposition still matter more. Training these dogs costs between $26,000 and $42,000, so the agency can’t be too picky about looks.
I remember coming into Logan Airport in Boston many years ago from an overseas trip. I was surprised to see beagles running around the area where we picked up our luggage. Although it seemed a little odd, it made perfect sense–beagles have very good noses. The top three breeds considered to have the best sense of smell are the bloodhounds, the basset hounds, and the beagles. It’s just that the look of the German Shepherd and the Belgian Malinois seems much more appropriate for a dog involved in law enforcement.
At any rate, I wish the TSA luck with their new program. It’s nice to see some of the working breeds get the recognition they deserve.