Key personnel in the FBI come with four legs and partner with skilled handlers. These highly trained FBI team units are dogs with such high levels of training that they can detect about 19,000 different combinations of explosives. They are team members so highly valued that when killed in the line of duty, they are buried in child-sized steel coffins.
Labrador Retrievers Versus German Sheppards
Readers of metropolitan police department annual reports that discuss K-9 units may be familiar with the analyses of “bites per apprehension.” That is not the case with the FBI’s special K-9 units. These dogs go out in public and interact with people. For this reason, Labrador retrievers are the chosen breed for this task. This generally mellow type of dog thrives on the attention it receives from passersby.
These dogs are rewarded with food given by hand whenever they apprehend explosives. Thus, training takes place every day. The dogs are part of the family and even go on vacation with their handlers.
The FBI started its K-9 unit in 1999. Before that, they contracted dogs for this purpose. The handlers of the dogs are FBI Special Agents who frequently come from backgrounds in fighting terrorism, all too often conducted with explosives, or working with the bomb squads of local law enforcement agencies.
The sense of smell of dogs is so sensitive that they can detect one teaspoon of sugar diluted in a swimming pool. This keen sense is highly useful in detecting explosives. Ranging from gun powder to TNT, today’s criminals use a sophisticated array of chemicals for nefarious purposes.
FBI Service Canines Getting the Respect they Deserve
While most of the dogs retire into a life as the family pet (although wary of eating from bowls), several of the FBI’s prized K-9 units have been killed in the line of duty. The loss of these K-9 units is treated as the loss of an officer, and they are memorialized on a wall in Quantico.
Despite his wearing of a bulletproof vest, tactical Czech German shepherd Ape was shot and killed in March, 2013 during an FBI raid in Herkimer, NY. His sacrifice prevented deaths of the human members of the team. In October 2009, Freddy, a Belgian Malinois, was killed during a raid of an organized crime ring and radical Islamic sect in Dearborn, Michigan.