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Feds Want More Bomb-Sniffing Dogs To Protect Travelers

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Allegheny County police Officer Mark McConnell and Rudy, a veteran police dog, check out the baggage claim area in Pittsburgh International Airport. Rudy, 9, is trained to detect explosives. Keith Hodan | Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

By Tom Fontaine for The Pittsburgh Tribune – Review

The Transportation Security Administration wants to increase the role dogs play in sniffing out terror threats at U.S. airports and other mass transit systems.

The TSA requested $71 million from Congress to train and deploy 275 explosives detection canine teams — bomb dogs and their handlers — at transportation facilities. The agency has 700 teams, including five at Pittsburgh International Airport.

“The teams have proven to be a very reliable, effective and flexible layer of security,” said TSA spokeswoman Ann Davis.

Davis could not say whether Pittsburgh International would be in line for more dogs if the agency gets the money.

Allegheny County police have maintained airport bomb dogs since 1973. Since 9/11, however, the TSA has supplied them and covered many related expenses, providing as much as $50,000 a year per dog to county police, Davis said.

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