Terrorists are targeting innocent people in huge public venues with deadly, homemade bombs.
Explosions rocked Paris in November, 2015. The following March, 32 people died in attacks at the Brussels airport and subway system. And In May 2017, a suicide bomber targeted crowds at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, England, killing 22 people.
At K2 Solutions in Southern Pines, North Carolina, trainers teach dogs to detect the scent of explosives and signal when they smell danger.
Trainers will set up a homemade explosive in 10 cylinders but in 20 other blocks, there will be distractor scents, such as human food, coffee and even hand sanitizer.
“If they can work through and ignore the food and anything else that’s in there and find that explosive they can alert to that,” K-9 operations manager Stacy West said.
West said the trainers use positive reinforcement. When the dog smells the explosive, it gets a toy.
“You can notice when the dog just stops, that means he’s picked up that scent?” Eyewitness News anchor Allison Latos asked,
“That’s right. He’s telling the handler, ‘I’ve found the odor, now where is my toy?’” West said.
K2 started the homemade bomb detection program in 2016 and has trained K-9 units across the country, including Mecklenburg County sheriff’s dog, Aggie.
Aggie helps Deputy Zackary Morton inspect high-profile spots like Bank of America Stadium.
Channel 9 went along with Aggie and Morton hours before the Carolina Panthers kickoff and watched as Aggie sniffed inside and outside the media trailers.
“We focus a lot of boxes and stuff like this to make sure nobody planted anything inside,” Morton said.
If dogs don’t detect explosives during a long search, they can lose interest. So Morton plants the scent of a possible bomb to keep Aggie energized.
“We want to make sure she has that motivation to search and still think that something is in the area,” Morton said.
The security sweep also took Channel 9 inside the team’s equipment room and to every corner of the Panthers locker room.
“The people who are coming to the game or watching it on TV probably had no idea that this goes on before every game,” Latos asked.
“We usually show up before anyone else starts getting into the stadium,” Morton said. “If someone were to attack the locker room, it’s going to be a national incident.
Bomb dogs also sniff any bags or equipment the opposing team and the referees bring into the stadium.
The sweeps don’t just happen at the NFL games, K-9 units work before big soccer events, concerts and UNC Charlotte football games.
Aggie can pinpoint 22 different types of explosives. Luckily, she hasn’t discovered any bombs in Charlotte.
Aggie has proven to be crucial to police by helping officers find shell casings at several crime scenes.
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