To coincide with National Work Like a Dog Day on August 5, officials with the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA) highlighted the role working canines play in transportation security operations.
The TSA and Port of Seattle Police Department both utilize explosive detection canines to supplement their security operations at SEA Airport. These working dogs are paired with handlers and can be seen working throughout the aviation environment as a visible layer of security to supplement efforts to keep travelers safe and secure.
National Work Like a Dog Day is held annually to celebrate the drive and excellent work ethic of canines as they serve alongside their human partners in a variety of roles. In addition to being a security asset, they can be trained to take on tasks ranging from law enforcement support, search and rescue; therapy and service roles; as well as companionship as a person’s best friend.
As TSA and SEA Airport officials prepare for what is anticipated will be the busiest month since the summer on 2019, travelers can expect to see explosive detection canines working anywhere in the airport. With the usual volume of summer vacation travelers and the return of the cruise ship industry to Seattle, there will be times that operations will be at near capacity.
For travelers departing SEA Airport in August, the busiest times at the security checkpoints are 5 a.m. to 8 a.m.; 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.; and 4 p.m. to 5 p.m. The busiest days to travel are Thursdays and Fridays as well as Sundays and Mondays.
These peaks are driven by the flight departure schedules determined by the airlines. Because there are times during the day when a concentrated number of flights depart over a short period of time, there will be intervals when the security checkpoint is extremely busy, making it essential that travelers arrive early and prepared to allow for completion of every step of the travel process from curb to gate.
SEA Airport is offering something new for travelers to try this summer. SEA Spot Saver is a free pilot program where travelers can sign-up for reservations to go through general screening lanes at TSA security checkpoints. RSVP to save your spot in line up to 72 hours in advance of travel or once at the airport.
Everyone in the airport environment and onboard aircraft is required to wear a face mask per the the federal mask mandate, which is in effect through Sept. 13, 2021. Face coverings need to cover the nose and mouth and fit snugly against the sides of the face without gaps. A TSA officer will ask travelers to briefly adjust their mask for ID verification purposes. Travelers without a mask may be denied entry, boarding, or continued transport. Failure to comply with the mask requirement can result in civil penalties.
Biographies of some of the working canines at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport
Toti is a six-year-old Weimaraner who works with his TSA handler Mike. True to the characteristics of its breed, Toti is friendly, fearless and obedient with a high drive to work. That doesn’t keep him from being extra social around people. Toti and Mike began working together sniffing out explosives in 2017 at Las Vegas McCarran International Airport and moved to Seattle in 2019. Toti is a country boy at heart and lives on a 12-acre ranch south of Seattle with his handler where he enjoys chasing squirrels and barking at cows.
Five-year-old Yango is a Labrador Retriever who has been working with his TSA handler Tim as an explosive detection canine in Seattle for the past two years. Each morning, Yango is the first one out of the door and he can’t wait to get to work! He has a great nose and was born to be a working dog. On his days off, Yango’s favorite pastime is napping and waking up just in time for dinner.
German Shorthaired Pointer Bor is four years old and has been a working canine for 2 ½ years. He and his TSA handler Chezarae are a great pair and can be seen working throughout SEA Airport. Bor is very eager, hard working and loves his job. He enjoys back scratches and running while off-duty. Chezarae is a former Marine who worked with ammunition and explosive for more than 12 years. Upon leaving the Marine Corps, she had her sights set on becoming a TSA K9 handler as a continuation of her public service.
Jill is a six-year-old German Shepherd who has been working at SEA Airport for more than four years with her TSA handler Tim. Jill is one of the smallest TSA working dogs and is often mistaken for being a puppy despite being a seasoned explosive detection canine. She loves to work and ball is life! Her favorite things in life are tennis balls and her Wubba (reward toy). She lives at home with Tim, his wife Nicole and her “step sister” Lacey who is the family’s pet dog.
A member of the Port of Seattle Police canine team, Lucky is a five-year-old Belgian Malinois. This explosive detection canine has worked for five years with his handler Josh who is a 16-year veteran of the Port of Seattle Police Department. Lucky’s motivation to work is the promise of his reward toy, a black Kong, when he sniffs out any type of explosive residue or component.
Merlin and his partner Jeralyn have been working together for four years helping to keep SEA Airport safe as part of the Port of Seattle Police Department. Merlin was born in Germany in 2015 and was trained to sniff out explosives in North Carolina. Jeralyn trained with Merlin in 2017 for two months prior to becoming a certified explosive detection team at SEA Airport. Travelers can see this canine team working mainly in the ticketing areas and the airport drives, sweeping these locations to keep travelers safe and secure. Merlin loves to train and works hard for his reward, a Wubba. Merlin lives at home with Jeralyn and in his spare time, loves to swim for exercise.
Port of Seattle Police Department Officer Ray is in his 12th year as an explosive detection canine handler and his 22nd year with the department. Ray works daily at SEA Airport with his canine partner “Flash” Gordon, a four-year-old German Shorthaired Pointer. Outside of work, Gordon enjoys jogging, playing fetch and cheering for the Cougs during the WSU football season.