The Transportation Security Administration has been swapping out dogs with cone-shaped ears, such as German shepherds, for more image-friendly sporting or hunting breeds in an attempt to make the public feel more at ease when they seen the dogs.
"We find the passenger acceptance of floppy ear dogs is just better," TSA Administrator David Pekoske said in a recent tour at Washington Dulles International Airport, reports The Washington Examiner.
"It presents just a little bit less of a concern (and) doesn’t scare children."
Already, 80 percent of the 1,200 dogs the TSA uses have droopy ears. Dogs retire daily from the agency, so the TSA is using their departures to bring in more of the sporting breeds, choosing to use Labrador retrievers, German shorthaired pointers, wirehaired pointers, vizslas, and golden retrievers. The agency also still uses two pointy-eared, or working breed dogs, German shepherds and the Belgian malinois.
Christopher Shelten, branch manager of the TSA training center in San Antonio, however, said dogs are not ruled out because of their breed or appearance. The agency looks for dogs for their health, ability, willingness to detect odors, and how they react to people.
About one-third of the TSA's 1,200 dogs screen passengers at airports, while the other two-thirds are certified to sniff out explosives in baggage.
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