From the field: CBP canine handlers conduct training at Air Station Detroit

Guest post written By Lt. Jason Neiman, Air Station Detroit:

Bridget Hillard, a canine handler with U.S. Customs and Border Protection, and dog Falco train at Air Station Detroit, Jan. 4, 2012. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Lt. Jason Neiman.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection canine handlers and their dogs recently trained aboard Air Station Detroit. Three dogs and their handlers were on site to conduct training events on Jan. 4 and 5, 2012.

Each dog was graded and evaluated for weakness or areas to improve. It was also a great opportunity for the handlers to work their dogs in an unfamiliar place, which helps to build proficiency and experience.

Chaos, an agricultural working dog with U.S. Customs and Border Protection, sniffs the camera during training at Air Station Detroit, Jan. 5, 2011. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Lt. Jason Neiman.

“Changing the environments that the dogs train in is very important,” said Amy Valle, a canine field trainer from CBP’s Detroit Field Office.

“If we always trained in the same places the dogs would not be challenged with new sights, scents, or sounds.” Valle spent six years as a dog handler in the U.S. Army before joining CBP, where she has 21 years experience with canine operations.

Canines, like those ones that trained at Air Station Detroit, are utilized at U.S. and Canadian borders and local ports of entry to enforce federal regulations by identifying and locating illegal contraband.

Dogs like Falco, a German Shepherd, go through three months of training at Fort Royal, Va., learning to detect marijuana, hashish, cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine, ecstasy and concealed humans. CBP also utilizes dogs like Chaos, a Beagle, to detect unauthorized food and liquids brought in from foreign countries through Detroit Metropolitan Airport.

“The Air Station is always excited to strengthen our relationship with DHS partners, especially when we get to see working dogs running around the hangar decks.” Lt. Jason Neiman, public affairs officer at Air Station Detroit.

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