Three law enforcement canines were brought before the House Homeland Security Committee in Washington this week to demonstrate their skills, reports the Associated Press. They performed flawlessly, finding hidden explosives and a bag of marijuana that had been placed in a desk. Lawmakers are considering federal standards for how the dogs are bred and trained, and a possible boost in funding. The canines sniff out explosives, narcotics, and suspects at crime scenes, border crossings, airports and soon will be used in 10 cities on mass transit systems and commuter trains. “There’s always a need for more (dogs) but they have to be well trained and used correctly,” said Special Agent Terry Bohan head of canine training at the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
The bureau has trained 500 explosives detection canines and their handlers, who work across the nation and in 16 other countries. Homeland Security’s Customs and Border protection has about 1,200 dogs. The Transportation Security Administration has more than 350 dogs at airports. It is unclear just how much dogs are helping U.S. law enforcement officials. “The first thing we’ve got to find out is what exactly are we doing now,” said Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Al.), who chairs the subcommittee that held the hearing. “Second is to quantify what’s the best way to get from what we have to what we need.”