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LAX gets specially trained bomb-sniffing dogs

May 12, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
Security at Los Angeles International Airport is getting a boost with some uniquely trained dogs.

LAX officials introduced on Thursday a new crew of bomb-sniffing dogs that can detect a whiff of explosives from a moving target. The program, named PACT (Pro-Active Canine Team), is not available at any other airport so far.

These special dogs can actually detect a plum of air coming from someone carrying explosives, and they can still sniff out the explosive fumes minutes after the carrier has passed.

This extra line of security is in response to would-be terrorists, like the shoe-bomber who tried to light his explosive onboard a jetliner.

"Unlike traditional bomb-sniffing dogs, these unique fully trained explosive-detection canines can detect concealed explosives on a person, in other words, a moving target such as a suicide bomber," said Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.

Prior to this program, LAX did not have any way of sniffing out or detecting the fumes from explosives on shoes, belts, or wherever it may have been hidden by a terrorist.

"Luggage is not likely in today's world to be where the explosives are placed," said Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck. "More likely they will be concealed on a person."

The program was paid for by the L.A. Police Foundation. The dogs form a critical new layer of security.

"This is a first program of its kind. I have no doubt that other airports are going to start adopting this model nationwide," said LAX Police Chief George Centeno.

It comes as fresh evidence is publicized from Osama bin Laden's writings that Los Angeles is one of the four top terrorist targets in the country. And in the area it's believed LAX heads the list with its 60 million passengers along with 2 million tons of freight a year.

"We are at a much heightened state of awareness because of bin Laden's death," said Beck. "Right now the time is ripe for dome thing to happen."

The chief adds that there is no specific threat or indication that there are any specific plans for an attack on L.A. or anywhere else in the U.S.

Although the new dogs add to the line of defense at LAX, airport security officials emphasized that travelers need to remain vigilant and report any suspicious activity.

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