Dogs help sniff out guns in Alabama
Gun and gun violence have made the news a lot lately. Fortunately, two dogs are working on reducing gun violence in schools.
A black Labrador Retriever named QT and his pal, a German Spotted Retriever named Hoss, are helping sniff out guns in one Alabama school system. The dogs are part of a new program developed by Calhoun County Schools, based in Alexandria, Alabama. The pilot may be the first of its kind to request the assistance of dogs to help detect guns in educational institutions as part of a prevention program to keep gun violence out of schools.
Where it all began
Dogs have been used to combat violence for years. Most notably, dogs are often used in airports to help sniff out explosives people may be attempting to carry. QT first entered the program after his handler heard about a terrorist headed on a Miami flight in December 2011. Richard Reid, a citizen of Britain, was planning on blowing up a plane headed to the sunny city with explosives hidden in his shoes. A flight attendant noticed Reid attempting to light his shoe and stopped Reid before he stepped on the plane and created the second terrorist attack in a matter of a few months. QT's handler was so upset by the event that he decided to begin training dogs to detect explosives and other tools used for violence. QT was his first trainee.
Since then, QT has been making strides in protecting citizens against violence. Like so many other dogs in this field, his training began at a prison, where he was taught to discern different scents and taught a variety of tasks. The dogs are then given to a handler who trains them for eight weeks. From there, he was brought into the organization AMK9, led by Paul Hammond. After witnessing the near act of terrorism with Reid, Hammond decided to develop a program that trained dogs to specifically sniff out dangerous threats. The program uses Wake Vapor training to teach the dogs how to detect explosives, firearms and other types of violence.
The technology for Wake Vapor training emerged out of Auburn University soon after the terrorist act. Researchers figured out that dogs have the ability to sniff out miniscule particles left behind from gunpowder, explosives and so on. Any time a person touches one of these violent objects, body heat causes a tiny bit of residue to come off and end up on the person's hands. The dog's are trained to associate that minor residue with firearms and explosives. While the dog may not be able to locate the person, they can definitely find the object, and often that is more important. Only certain dogs are picked to undergo the extensive vapor training, which takes 18 months to complete.
Once a dog graduates from the program, he goes onto several different organizations to help sniff out danger. Several graduates of the AMK9 program have gone on to help sniff out any firearms or explosives at several major league baseball stadiums in nearby states. However, QT was assigned to a much more heartfelt task - protecting the lives of children.
A strong influence
QT has been with Calhoun County Schools since 2014. Since he arrived, danger has reached an all time low. QT has sniffed out illegal drugs in lockers and caused other students to turn themselves in for carrying or dealing drugs. Naturally, QT's skills extend past sniffing out illegal substances. QT is associated with the Calhoun County Sheriff's office, so his sniffing abilities are used in a variety of ways. In the summer of 2015, QT helped find a firearm that had been ditched in a nearby ravine. QT has been very influential in the schools in terms of detecting any danger that enters the building. His handlers noted that he is always alert and studies everyone who comes into view. Now, Hoss has joined the fight to help sniff out danger in these schools.
Together, the dogs are making huge strides in protecting the people of Alexandria, Alabama.