Specially trained canines used at RIC to sniff out explosives

Posted at 1:37 PM, Oct 15, 2014
and last updated 2014-10-15 17:49:34-04

RICHMOND, Va. -- The next time you fly out of the Richmond International Airport, you may be greeted by one of four canine teams, designed to sniff out explosives. In fact the canines not only pick up the scent from explosives, but the dogs--graduates of Auburn University--can detect air currents or the mere odor from explosives.

"They are looked at from the time they are born to make sure they have the drive," handler Lisa Washington said. "They really are the top of the top."

Four-year-old Fable, along with her handler Lisa Washington, work long hours.

"Some days we work 10 hour shifts--you know they only work a half hour at a time--but she will give her all," Washington said.

The long hours are to protect those flying in and out of the airport. Wednesday, airport officials gave a demonstration on how it all works. Fable carefully sniffed passengers, both moving and still. Once she picked up on the explosive vapors--which were present on a decoy--she alerted her handler Lisa by pulling and scratching to get closer to the scent she has trained to detect.

"It's very rewarding for me to know that I am doing something to fight terrorism," Washington said.

"Flying kind of scares me a little bit and there are different risks out there, but knowing that at least one risk is taking care of," traveler Madison Kilgore said.

As for why Fable works so hard, it's not for pay but for play.

"Just for that ball and for the praise she receives from me," Washington explained.

It's an added level of security travelers like Madison Kilgore value.

"Times are changing but they are taking steps to make us all feel safer, I think," Kilgore said.

The canines have been patrolling the Richmond International Airport for three years now.