San Antonio International Airport is going to the dogs — in a good way.
On June 28, the airport and the federal Transportation Security Administration (TSA) sealed a deal to bring four canine teams to the airport as soon as this fall.
The canine teams, each made up of one handler and one dog, will undergo 12 to 16 weeks of training at the TSA Canine Training Program facility. The $12 million facility is at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland.
Once they’re fully trained, the four teams will be stationed at the San Antonio airport. They’ll be tasked with sniffing out explosive materials on passengers and luggage, particularly at TSA checkpoints.
Jesus Saenz Jr., San Antonio’s airport director, says the canine teams will “add an enhanced level of security to our operation.”
The four San Antonio teams will join more than 1,000 TSA canine teams that patrol airports, mass transit systems, and maritime systems around the country. TSA enlists a variety of canine breeds for the teams.
Jesus Presas, TSA’s federal security director at the San Antonio airport, says the canine program “is a great example of federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies working together to protect the traveling public.”
The airport says that although the dogs “are beautiful and may look friendly,” travelers are asked to avoid distracting or interacting with the canines. Why? Distractions or interaction might prevent the dogs and their handlers from carrying out their mission, which is to detect odors of explosives on passengers or luggage.
“Explosives are known to be the greatest threat to the civil aviation system right now, and this … program is the most effective means of detecting explosive materials,” the airport says.