Since the terrorist attacks on September 11, and subsequent attacks worldwide, there has been a critical need to increase our nation’s security. Experts recognize that there is no better or more efficient way to detect explosives than through the use of high-quality, specially-trained scent detection dogs.
Today, the primary source for such dogs are European vendors. As of Summer 2017, the federal government was importing between 80-90 percent of the dogs that enter the U.S. explosives detection training programs. Non-governmental security providers utilize a similar percentage of imported detection dogs. This shortage of appropriate, domestically-bred dogs available for work as explosive detection dogs presents a significant threat to U.S. national and public security.
In response to a governmental request for insight and assistance on the issue, the AKC has been working with a wide variety of stakeholders to study the issue and develop recommendations. Sheila Goffe, AKC Vice President, Government Relations, testified as an expert witness before the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Oversight and Government Reform Subcommittee on Intergovernmental Affairs; and the House Committee on Homeland Security Subcommittee on Transportation and Protective Security on October 3, 2017. The topic was “Innovations in Security: Examining the Use of Canines.” She was joined by Dr. Cindy Otto of the Penn Vet Working Dog Center at the University of Pennsylvania and Lt. Scott Smith of the Orlando (FL) Police Department.
Goffe presented an overview of the challenges facing acquisition of high-quality detection dogs, and provided information about the American Kennel Club, AKC’s expertise in dogs, and resources AKC can offer in facilitating the development of a reliable, high-quality source of US -bred and trained domestic detection dogs. She and Dr. Otto also discussed a proposed development of a working dog center of excellence, bringing together high quality dog breeders, trainers and academia, and other partners in a cooperative effort to reduce the shortage of domestic-bred detection dogs and to develop a domestic source of working dogs that are the best in the world.
AKC continues to work with members of Congress and other policymakers to impact changes in how dogs may be obtained, and to promote both sourcing and the breeding/training of appropriate dogs for this important purpose in protecting our country.