Airport K-9s trained to keep us safer

HOUSTON (KTRK) -- The next time you take to the skies, you may see an added layer of security at the airport. But what are they screening for, how accurate are they, and what are they "sniffing" for? We're taking an in-depth look at the TSA's K-9 program.

A 3-and-half-year-old lab from Holland is working for the TSA's Passenger Screening K-9 Program.

"Well he's TSAs, but he definitely lives with me. He comes home with me and we drive everywhere together while we're at work," Trisha Harper said.

Harper is Paddy's handler and says he's not sniffing for drugs.

"Paddy is trained to detect presence of the odor of explosives," Harper said.

Harper and Paddy spent 3 months training together before landing at Hobby Airport.

As passengers move through, they're screened with his nose.

"If he detects something that's of interest of him, we'll ask them to stop," Harper said.

To demonstrate, the TSA setup a "decoy" to pass through the screening line. Harper, nor Paddy knew ahead of time which passenger would contain a scent triggering a response.

"When he smells something that's interesting to him, he may do any number of things," Harper said.

From there, the agent takes the next steps to follow security protocol.

"But ultimately it's up to the handler to decide whether or not it's a final response, and we might refer that person for more screening," Harper said.

Travelers don't seem to mind the extra layer of protection as well.

"I just think it's a good idea. It's just an added measure of security," traveler Diana Canales said.

Harper advice for passengers while encountering a TSA dog, do not reach out and pet them.

"These dogs are here as a portion of the screening process for TSA, and they're very effective if we let them work," she said. null
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