Why are we doing this?
The safety dog pilot is another element of prevention and detection in our overall comprehensive safety plan. These friendly and non-intrusive Labradors can provide sophisticated weapon scent detection while maintaining a warm, welcoming school environment for students.
Is it effective?
The safety dogs and their handlers have extensive and ongoing training, certification, and testing with impressive results. The dogs are trained to detect the scent of firearms, as well as ammunition and related gun products, and can pick up and follow a scent trail in the air even several minutes after weapons leave the area.
Who else uses these dogs?
Safety dogs of this kind are used by the Department of Homeland Security, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), the National Football League (NFL), Notre Dame University, Disney, casinos, concert venues and more.
How will this work?
Labradors’ sense of smell is significantly more sophisticated than humans. They are also known as one of the most intelligent and gentle breeds of dog, making them friendly and safe for use around children. The dogs and their handlers have extensive training to prepare them for this work.
The safety dogs sniff the air around them, unobtrusively screening crowds of moving people. They can also be used for specific location searches, as needed. The dogs are not used for direct physical inspection of individuals.
What if my child is allergic to or afraid of dogs?
The safety dogs will unobtrusively screen crowds of moving people and are not used for direct physical inspection of individuals. This will reduce any associated fears and exposure to allergens.
What if my child is identified by the dog?
If the dog was to detect a weapon scent, it would alert the handler and directly follow the scent to a specific individual or location. Our SROs would be notified to perform any searches.
Because the dogs’ detection ability is so sensitive, they may pick up previous weapon discharge from hunting or a firing range, for example. If the dog makes a detection, and the SRO does a search and finds there is no threat, the student would be excused.
Where will the dogs be?
The dogs will be utilized across all schools and at certain events in collaboration with our school resource officers and counselors. Unfortunately, we can’t share their specific schedule as this would compromise our safety plans.
Can my child pet the dog?
Dogs can’t be touched while working, but will be available for students to pet, if they wish, at other times. The dogs will have bandanas on to visually indicate when they are working. We will teach students how to interact with the dogs and appreciate parents reinforcing this message.
Are the dogs aggressive?
Labradors were chosen for their sense of smell, intelligence, motivation, performance and demeanor, making them friendly and safe for use around children. They are not used for direct physical inspection of individuals.
How are we paying for this?
Funding for this program was identified in the safety portion of the 2018 referendum. The extensive training, care and use of the dogs and their handlers is not insignificant. We are piloting three dogs to evaluate if this is an effective and efficient way to meet our safety needs.
How are the dogs treated?
The dogs receive regular training, care and housing from their handlers.