Homeland security menagerieCongress looks to expands America's K-9 ranks

Published 29 January 2007

Canine Detection Improvement Act of 2007 sets out standards for an increased push at explosives detection; airports and other critical infrastructure suffer from a lack of trained dogs; “breed American” is the new watchword, as congressmen try to take the German out of German shepherd

Harry Truman said that if you want a friend in Washington, buy a dog. Or, perhaps, just pass legislation establishing schools for them. Such is the opinion of the sponsors of the Canine Detection Improvement Act of 2007, which takes the bulldog by the horns and sets out a series of measures designed to improve America’s K-9 kennels — the idea being to strengthen law enforcement’s ability to sniff out explosives, particularly at airports, transportation hubs, and other critical infrastructure. In New Jersey, for instance, the state’s transit authority has only 10 K-9 teams, each consisting of one officer and one dog — for 951 miles of rail lines and 162 stations.

Obviously, the time has come for a change. Among the law’s provisions are a Domestic Canine Breeding Grant Program to enlarge the number of dogs “under paws” and and accreditation board to oversee abuses and fraud in the training. One interesting note: Much as President Bush has recently called for an end to America’s reliance on foreign oil, the recently introduced bill also encourages the use of American-born dogs. “Currently, the vast majority of these dogs are purchased in Europe, but by increasing domestic breeding we lower the costs of acquiring these dogs and ensure there are a sufficient number available for U.S. detection team training,” said Representative Mike Rogers (Party-State).