HONOLULU (KHON2) — Keeping Hawaii residents and visitors safe is authorities’ number one goal at the Daniel K. Inouye International Airport. To do that, they use technology, the TSA and law enforcement.
However, there is also another safety tool walking around that is equipped with just their nose and four paws.
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“So as a passenger is moving around, they naturally create a vapor wing off their body with airflow, and our dogs are trained to pick up explosive odor on that airway,” Mark Kaneshiro, an Explosive Detection K9 Handler with the TSA said.
Kaneshiro works side-by-side with his K9, Attila. The duo can often be spotted screening passengers before they even get to the TSA checkpoint. Attila sniffs for explosives.
“It could be on the person, in a pocket, it could be added height where it’s maybe, you know, in a hoodie, or it could be something as low as ankle plants,” Kaneshiro said.
Attila is not the only airport dog on duty.
Langer is a yellow lab, and he works with Deputy Sheriff Helen Shiroma-Kauahi — the only female law enforcement K9 handler in Hawaii.
“So what he does is keep the passengers on all the aircrafts safe,” Deputy Sheriff Helen Shiroma-Kauahi said. “I can say that from the time that I searched it, there was no, no bombs.”
While Langer and Attila have never found a live explosive at Honolulu’s airport, all the K9s train for real-life scenarios every day.
However, not all the dogs people will see at the airport are sniffing for explosives. For example, Bully is a Belgian Malinois that is trained to sniff out currency.
“Our job is to investigate bulk cash smuggling, and it could be for people failing to declare, bringing in money internationally, bringing it in or taking it out,” Deputy Sheriff James Barnes said. He is currently assigned to the Department of Homeland Security’s Border Enforcement Security Task Force.
According to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, anything going in or out of the United States over $10,000 must be declared. Smuggling cash over that value does happen more often than people might think in paradise.
“What we do is we look for those monies, and then we link them to illegal proceeds, to illegal activities. It could be gambling, could be drugs,” Deputy Sheriff Barnes explained. “It’s very, very, very, extremely difficult to beat our dogs.”
As these K9s work each day to keep Hawaii safe, they prove that dogs are truly human’s best friends.
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“They give everything they got all day, every day,” said Deputy Sheriff Shiroma-Kauahi.