Animal Jobs Series: Bomb DogsPublished December 15, 2008
Animal Jobs, Bomb Dogs: Getty Images
Bomb dogs have one of the most important animal jobs.
While no one wants to imagine a bomb in the building or vicinity, the reality is that bombs exist and unfortunately dangerous people do use them to intimidate and harm others. Removing a found bomb is imperative of course, but nothing can be done without first detecting and finding the bomb.
Bomb-sniffing dogs, or bomb dogs, hold one of the most important animal jobs; they are one of the best defenses, and a preferred recourse to quickly and reliably establish whether there is indeed a bomb.
Buildings large and small, methods of transportation (cars, trucks, boats, trains, planes), entertainment venues, public and private centers with historical or religious significance are all vulnerable, and are all able to be thoroughly searched for a potential threat by a bomb dog and a handler, or a team of dogs and their handlers.
Animal Jobs: Bomb Dog
To be certified as a bomb dog and hold this esteemed animal job, training is rigorous. It starts early, with a dog first screened for the right temperament. Where service dogs that aid vision- or hearing-impaired individuals and people with physical disabilities must be extremely calm, a bomb dog is trained off of a natural impulse of playfulness and energy. For a bomb dog, searching for and detecting explosives is a game, and one they eagerly play with a drive and stamina not easily matched.
At Work Dogs International, a private company that trains dogs, dog and handler teams, and provides detection services, the dogs are screened for temperament, which must be friendly and outgoing, and a strong hunting instinct. With those characteristics in place, it is a matter of training the dog how to work with a handler to follow the appropriate commands necessary in the field, and what exactly it is they are supposed to hunt for.
Animal Jobs: Bomb Dog Training
Constant training is required to reinforce exposure to and familiarity with the numerous chemicals and materials related to explosives, since field work does not necessarily provide daily exposure to these materials.
At Work Dogs International, handlers and dogs are trained on-site in California at a 10-acre ranch where they can recreate realistic situations "in hope that mistakes are made in training and not on the street." Their site boasts of rigorous testing that illustrates the experience a dog in this line of work might possess, to safeguard themselves as well as ensure the safety of those they work to protect. "We test our bomb dogs in a variety of locations with a number of trainers so they will learn to follow exact orders under any circumstance."
Animal Jobs: Bomb Dog Job Description
"For investigation teams, police units and security forces in charge of bomb detection, the bomb-sniffing dog is often the crucial field asset for mission success and survival. Therefore, our bomb detection dogs have been prepared for all scenarios through the Work Dogs International 600 hour Explosive Detection Course. Only the best are certified as official bomb dogs."
It's scary to think about bombs, and sometimes seeing a bomb dog is unnerving, as it is a reminder of the potential threat, but there is also a deterrent value to the visibility of a bomb dog. Their presence serves as a reminder that we have a wonderful ally against violence.
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