The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) announced that Alfie, a four-year-old yellow lab and explosive detection K9 who works at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport (PHX), was voted the winner of TSA’s “cutest K9” contest.
TSA recently held a 24-hour nationwide contest on Instagram and encouraged the public to vote for the agency’s “cutest K9.” More than 100,000 votes were received and Alfie received the most votes. The contest was held in recognition of National Dog Day, August 26.
Alfie was one of four TSA K9 candidates that also included “Muk” from Austin–Bergstrom International Airport; “Figor” from Chicago Midway International Airport; and “Donna” from St. Louis Lambert International Airport. The K9s were nominated by TSA handlers from airports around the country.
Alfie is a passenger screening canine (PSC) who works with his handler Jason at PHX searching travelers and their belongings in the security checkpoint. Together, they assist with the efficiency and effectiveness of TSA’s screening operations and are an added layer of security.
Alfie and Jason have worked together for two years at PHX. According to Jason, Alfie’s favorite transportation asset to search is an aircraft and his favorite treat is baby carrots. As a working K9, Alfie’s gets rewarded with a large squeaky tennis ball. Alfie is eager and enthusiastic while working, but enjoys hanging out in the back yard with Jason when they are at home.
Passengers departing airports across the country can at any time expect to see PSC teams working around travelers. The teams capably navigate among large groups of people to pinpoint the source of an explosive odor, even if the source is mobile and often without the source being aware it is being tracked. A PSC handler is trained to read its dog’s change of behavior when it indicates an explosive scent has been detected.
If a dog alerts its handler to the presence of explosive odor, TSA follows an established procedure to resolve the alarm. The use of these highly-trained K9s is an effective tool in deterring and detecting the introduction of explosive devices into the nation’s transportation systems.
Because explosives are known to be the greatest threat to the aviation system, TSA’s working K9s are regularly tested to ensure they maintain a high standard of operational effectiveness. This continual training allows for all teams to be a reliable resource in detecting an explosive threat, maintaining proper acclimation within the airport, and mitigating potential distractions in a busy transportation environment.
Currently, TSA has more than 400 PSC teams that work primarily at airports across the country. The teams are also trained to work in non-aviation transportation venues.