Security Magazine

How Canines Can Boost Security and Detection

In the ever-changing world of security, staying one step ahead of the enemy is paramount.

March 1, 2014

In the ever-changing world of security, staying one step ahead of the enemy is paramount. With technological advances spanning into the planet’s atmosphere, one of the most trusted methods of security has become the canine.

With the collapse of the World Trade Center in 2001, a pilot program called Puppies Behind Bars entered the War on Terror. First, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, one of the country’s largest Contract Working Dog (CWD) employers, came knocking. AMK9 was established after. Since then CWDs have become a staple in keeping the U.S. safe, as well as upgrading efforts for foreign governments and private organizations. 

CWDs are changing the industry by providing services that are better, faster and cheaper.  Most CWD teams can be mobilized anywhere in the world on short notice.  This fluidity allows has helped the dogs garner a reputation for being dependable, as well as cost-effective. 

Security dogs are mainly focused on the following areas:

  • Bomb detection
  • Illegal drugs
  • Human remains detection
  • Cellphones and currency

You would be hard pressed to think of a better smelling machine than a dog. Its nose extends from the nostrils to the back of its throat, giving a dog an olfactory area 40 times greater than a human’s. Dogs have some 300 million olfactory receptor cells; humans have six million. More to the point, 35 percent of a dog’s brain is assigned to smell-related operations. A human brain assigns only five percent of its cellular resources to smelling, allowing for the canines to pick up on the scent of a perpetrator, explosive device, illegal drugs or whatever objects it is trained to detect. 

It’s not just a matter of quantity, either. A dog’s nasal mechanism doesn’t work the way a person’s does. For one thing, the functions of breathing and smelling aren’t all jumbled up together, the way they are for us. When air enters a dog’s nose, it splits into two separate paths – one for breathing and one for smelling. This means that exhaled air doesn’t perturb the dog’s ability to analyze incoming odors; in fact, outgoing air is even thought to help new odors enter. Even better, it allows dogs to smell continuously over many breathing cycles.

Contract Working Dogs are more visible now – at banks, airports, trains, post offices, sports stadiums, etc. If the sniffing dogs are overlooked today, it’s because they have blended so seamlessly into the post-9/11 landscape. An explosive detection canine in an airport or train station doesn’t stand out any more than a collie chasing a stick on a suburban lawn. Part of the reason the public notice bomb dogs is they tend to enjoy their presence.

Moving forward, the goal of the Canine Industry is to educate the public and private sectors on the advantages of using canines. These historic companions are a perfect complement to security efforts; ultimately, they help save human lives.