TSA starts using floppy-ear dogs to reduce passenger stress
Your next trip to Sea-Tac Airport may just be a tad less stressful than it was last time — just a little. The Transportation Security Administration is benching many of their pointy-ear dogs in favor of more floppy-ear dog narcs, as they find them to be less scary to passengers and their kids.
The change is being made precisely for people like guest host Andrew Walsh, who gets a bit nervous when those furry pointed-eared dog cops come by.
“It’s this Pavlovian thing for me when I’m in line and see these dogs coming by,” he said. “I’m immediately like, ‘Oh no, they’re going to find my drugs! Wait, I don’t have drugs. Also, weed is legal. Also, do I have a bomb? Why do I feel so guilty? I see these dogs and get super nervous.”
While the TSA is also adding new high-tech baggage scanners, facial-recognition cameras, and “automated lanes” to eliminate passenger gridlock, the cuter dogs are simply part of an effort to reduce stress, reports the Los Angeles Times.
“I love that. If you’re being checked out by a lab or golden retriever, you relax even if you have drugs on you,” joked KIRO Radio’s Tom Tangney.
Seven breeds of dogs are currently in rotation at the agency. The pointy ear dogs squad includes German shepherds and Belgian Malinois, and the floppy ears sniffers are Labrador retrievers, German short-haired pointers, wire-haired pointers, Vizslas, and golden retrievers.
To deal with the uptick in travelers, Sea-Tac recently added five additional explosive sniffing dogs to its team for a total of 10. Anyone who is allergic, frightened of dogs, or is traveling with a pet can skip the K-9 sniffing line, but it might mean more time getting through security.
There are more than 900 teams of officers with explosive-sniffing dogs smelling your luggage across the country. Most sniff baggage and cargo behind the scenes, but about a third interact with passengers in lines.
“I’m going to start bringing drugs just so I can pet the dogs,” Andrew said. “I wonder if in a job like this you don’t want the dogs to be too cute, because people might want to reach out and be like, ‘Aww, good boy.'”
Of course, they’ll all probably still be wearing those “Do Not Pet” signs.