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Wednesday, October 4, 2023

Vote for TSA’s Top K9 2020!

As we approach National Dog Day (yes, it’s a thing!) on August 26, the Transportation Security Administration is asking for your help to detect the most pup-ular TSA K9. Last year’s Cutest Canine winner was yellow labrador Alfie from Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport. 

This year, the candidates searching for your vote are Kajla, Djanni, Lexa-Alexey and Ron. The voting will take place via two “match-ups”. The first sees Kajla from Hawaii’s Daniel K. Inouye International Airport against Djanni from Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport. Then it will be the turn of Lexa-Alexey from Dallas Fort Worth International Airport and Ron from Oakland International Airport. The winners of each match-up will then go head to head in the final vote to find TSA’s Cutest Canine 2020. The winner will be announced on National Dog Day.

Vote for TSA's Top K9 2020! Homeland Security Today
Clockwise from top left Kajla Djanni Ron and Lexa Alexey TSA photos

TSA’s canine teams are most often seen at an airport working in the security checkpoint, assisting with the efficiency and effectiveness of TSA’s screening operations. Because explosives are known to be the greatest threat to the aviation system, these highly-trained canines are effective in the detection of explosive materials and deterrence from the introduction of explosive materials into the transportation system.

Training as an explosive detection K9 is no easy task. Conventional explosives detection canine teams undergo a 12-week training course, with passenger screening canine teams undergoing a 16-week training. 

TSA’s K9 training center hosts 17 indoor venues that mimic transportation sites and modes, including a cargo facility, airport gate area, checkpoint, baggage claim area, the interior of an aircraft, a vehicle parking lot, and light rail car.

After graduating, teams are continually assessed on four key elements: the canine’s ability to recognize explosives odors, the handler’s ability to interpret the canine’s change of behavior, the handler’s ability to conduct logical and systematic searches, and the team’s ability to locate the explosives odor source.

TSA currently has more than 1,000 explosives detection canine teams deployed nationwide. 

So get voting, because we all know how important our vote is, right?!

Update: Kajla and Ron won their match-ups and after a final round of voting, Kajla was crowned TSA’s Cutest Canine 2020.

Explosives detection canine Kajla is a five-year-old Vizsla who enjoys long walks on Waikiki beach, coconut water and paying her respects at Pearl Harbor National Memorial. She is described as “spirited, fun-loving and a powerhouse pup that is constantly on the move”. She is very social and continues to make passengers smile with her vigorous tail wags. 

Kylie Bielby
Kylie Bielby has more than 20 years' experience in reporting and editing a wide range of security topics, covering geopolitical and policy analysis to international and country-specific trends and events. Before joining GTSC's Homeland Security Today staff, she was an editor and contributor for Jane's, and a columnist and managing editor for security and counter-terror publications.

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