A few years ago, we wrote about the officers and service dogs from the K-9 Unit of the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority. These specially-trained teams manage the serious work of protecting the public from harm at airports in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area. And four years later, these teams still enjoy training in our warehouse.
More recently, we were contacted by agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (more commonly known as the ATF), which is part of the U.S. Department of Justice. While unaware of the previous K-9 training that had taken place in our facility, they asked permission to come to our residential warehouse for similar training with their service animals.
Although both teams use expert officers and hand-selected dogs to seek out explosives in public areas, there are interesting differences between to two groups.
For the ATF, their dogs are almost always Labrador Retrievers. Of course, Labs are a friendly, approachable breed. These selected Labs, however, are extra-special. Many of them come from programs like Puppies Behind Bars, which allows incarcerated inmates to raise and train puppies that will eventually be used as service animals. On occasion, an ATF dog comes from a Guide Dog program where the puppy was not the best fit.
We’ve written before about our training house, where our crews are professionally educated and tested on moving best practices. The ATF agents and their service dogs also thought our training house was ideal for their purposes, for these reasons:
- Being scrupulously clean, there are no concerns of debris distracting or harming the dogs.
- The 2-story training house allows the dogs to practice searching for explosives on stairs and in smaller rooms.
- The controlled, secure environment means agents and dogs alike can be focused while training.
We were honored to have the ATF agents and their service animals choose our facility for training and we hope they will come back again soon. Not only are they impressive to watch (and let’s be honest, the dogs are adorable!), we think of it as another small way to give back to our community and the folks who help protect us from harm.
Check out some photos below of the two service dogs who visited us recently.