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Thursday, July 18, 2024

TSA Bomb-Sniffing Dog Retires After Years of Service at Milwaukee Airport

Rex, a 6-year-old German Shorthaired Pointer, has had his last run as a Transportation Security Administration (TSA) passenger screening canine at Milwaukee Mitchell International Airport (MKE).

The dog is ready to trade in his working vest for afternoons lounging on the sofa.

After his last morning of sniffing for any traces of explosives at MKE Thursday morning, Rex was joined by several of the canine handlers, TSA staff, and invited guests to celebrate his retirement. After Rex alerted on a scent on a decoy passenger, he was showered with tennis balls tossed his way by his friends and party guests.

Rex’s handler, Regina Eisenberg, then removed Rex’s “Do Not Pet” patch from his harness, thus officially signaling that the dog was no longer a working canine and could be petted. There was no shortage of guests who were eager to pet the newly retired dog.

Rex and Eisenberg have been paired for five years, and they were the first canine/handler team brought in to start Wisconsin’s TSA passenger screening canine program last year. Eisenberg, who will now work as a canine program supervisor out of Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport (ORD), will continue to care for Rex for the rest of his life.

In retirement, Rex is looking forward to snoozing on the couch, visiting the beach for the first time, and enjoying his favorite squeaky toys.

TSA trains each of its explosives detection canines at the TSA Canine Training Center, located at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland in San Antonio, Texas. Considered the “Center for Excellence” for explosives detection canine training, the TSA National Explosives Detection Canine Team Program is the Department of Homeland Security’s largest explosives detection canine program.

About 300 canines complete the training annually. Each canine recruit spends 16 weeks in training where they meet their handlers, socialize to adapt to busy airport environments, and learn their craft of detecting a variety of explosive odors before reporting to their duty stations.

TSA has more than 1,000 canine handler teams deployed in support of security and screening operations nationwide. The explosives detection canine teams inspect passengers and all areas in and around terminals. They are so effective at their jobs that other public and private sector law enforcement agencies often request their support for similar security missions.

Each canine and their handler serves as a reliable resource for detecting explosives as well as providing a visible deterrent to terrorism directed towards various types of transportation nodes. Once on duty, these canines work to safeguard passengers and cargo across the nation’s transportation systems.

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Homeland Security Today
The Government Technology & Services Coalition's Homeland Security Today (HSToday) is the premier news and information resource for the homeland security community, dedicated to elevating the discussions and insights that can support a safe and secure nation. A non-profit magazine and media platform, HSToday provides readers with the whole story, placing facts and comments in context to inform debate and drive realistic solutions to some of the nation’s most vexing security challenges.

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