COLONIE, N.Y. -- The Transportation Security Administration has added an extra layer of security to its screenings at Albany International Airport in the form of two dogs. Officials demonstrated its new passenger screening canines Tuesday.
There's four year old Zelda and her male companion, two year old Seven. They're adorable, not to mention friendly. In fact, they're both wearing collars informing people not to pet them. But they've got a job to do, a very important one at that; screening passengers for explosives.
"What he can do is smell the plumes of air coming off the people as they walk by and with his nose he can determine if there's anything dangerous on that person. If they have something on their body, in their bag," Mike Delia, a TSA Agent and Seven's handler said.
Mike Delia has been a TSA agent since 2004 and is Seven's handler, meaning he cares for him round the clock and trains with him everyday. It's crucial, Delia told News 10 that he know Seven well, so he can pick up on subtle cues.
"He does all the work and I have to understand what he's thinking all the time, so I can understand his change in behavior. If his sniffing changes, if his pace changes," Delia said.
We got to see Seven in action, when a fellow TSA agent tested his skills and he quickly responded. Delia then used a toy to divert his attention.
While Amtrak has been using canines like this for years, they're a recent addition in airports. The TSA said they're only in place at 20 airports in the country. Albany International is the first in the state.
Brian Johansson, a TSA Federal Security Director said "as we are able to get more handlers and more dogs trained it will continue to grow throughout the country."
"It is a lot of responsibility but it's rewarding too. I can come in everyday and work with him, train him and see him grow," Delia said.
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