ARLINGTON (CBSDFW.COM) – They’re cute. They’re cuddly. They’re among the country’s most elite anti-terrorism tools. Arlington’s K9 units have a skill to keep crowds safe which few others in the U.S. have.
“They are Vapor Wake dogs,” said Deputy Marshal Morkita Anthony of the Arlington Fire Department. “So they have the ability to track people through crowds that have explosives on them.”
Normally, bomb detection dogs are given an object to sniff and then they wait for the next assignment. But most Arlington Fire Department K9s can sniff the air in a crowd and pinpoint someone with explosives.
“If a person passes by within a certain distance the dog has the ability to pick up that odor and track that odor through the crowd and help us identify the person who has it on them,” Anthony explained.
They’re called Vapor Wake dogs by the company that trains them because they’re trained to keep their noses in the air and sniff for the smell of explosives left in the heat wake of someone walking by. The handler has to be in tune to how their K9 partner is reacting as they dog leads them through the crowd.
“Maybe they’re not right on the explosives or what the odor is that they’re smelling,” said Fire Inspector Kristina Johnson who recently completed a two month training course with her canine partner Tanya. “So, we have to be aware of their kind of behavior and what they are doing to let us know, ‘Hey! Something is close by.'”
The dogs have worked Super Bowls, World Series, presidential visits – these teams are constantly busy.
“The training every day, the callouts after hours and the workload that comes in on weekends and holidays because of the events that take place in different cities, there’s a huge demand for the handler and the K9,” Anthony said.
Arlington has seven of the Vapor Wake dogs and wants more because of all of the North Texas area is considered at risk of an attack 40 percent of them are in Arlington’s entertainment district.