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TSA demonstrates new passenger screening canines

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Albany/HV: TSA demonstrates new passenger screening canines
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A new security measure has arrived at Albany International Airport. Officials tell our Megan Cruz it's a departure from the tactics travelers are used to seeing.

COLONIE, N.Y. -- Meet Seven and Zelda. They're the newest members of the TSA team here at Albany International Airport. They're on a mission to find what the TSA considers the greatest threat to travelers' safety: Explosives.

But they're not looking in the usual places.

"Most bomb sniffing dogs you see sniff for inanimate objects that are fixed. These dogs are able to smell explosives that are on a human being and track that human being if they're moving," said Brian Johansson, the TSA Federal Security Director for Albany International Airport.

The TSA only started using passenger screening canines in April 2011. They say it's specifically in response to a growing threat.

"It's a trend for the bad guys to put explosives on people and use suicide bombers," said Johansson.

Seven and Zelda have been hard at work at Albany International now for a month. In that time, officials say they've had no false alarms but one hit.

"Which was explainable," said Johansson. "The guy had been at a shooting range and had gun powder on his boots. But the dogs were able to detect it and track it."

Each dog and handler goes through 10 to 12 weeks of intensive training.

Airport officials say know a great idea when they smell one.

Albany International Airport CEO John O'Donnell said, "It's unobtrusive, the dogs are very, very effective, their senses are tremendous."

Zelda and Seven were introduced to people Tuesday. They took part in a demonstration.

"We introduced a decoy that had a target on them that emits the odor the dog would react to. The dog reacted pretty well," said Johansson.

He hopes to hire two more dogs for the airport in the near future.

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