Meet Aki, Birmingham’s newest TSA explosives detection canine

Aki is Birmingham’s newest TSA explosives detection canine.
Aki is Birmingham’s newest TSA explosives detection canine.

SAN ANTONIO, Tx. (WIAT) — A new canine helper is on the ‘sniffout’ for dangerous explosives in the Birmingham Area. It’s not a typical dog’s life, but it’s an important one.

It’s a bond so special that it could save lives.

Tucked away on the Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas; dogs and their humans have been perfecting and crafting their relationships.

All of their hard work leads to the payoff: a graduation ceremony, celebrating the long and hard journey for both the handlers and their canines.

It was ten long weeks away from his family for Birmingham Police officer Metz Davis.

“I don’t know who’s more excited about me coming home, me going home or my family just dying to meet him,” Davis said.

Davis is referring to his new partner-in-crime-fighting, Aki. Aki, which means ‘here’, is a German Shorthaired Pointer with a playful personality.

“He’s relaxed, very light temperament dog, but when you give him his command, it’s like flipping a switch,” Metz said.

It’s a switch he’ll have to flip when he’s out on the streets of Birmingham.

“This is just another tool that I have to do my job with,” Metz said.

Aki is an explosives detection canine. The Transportation Security Administration’s Canine Training Facility graduated about 30 canines and their handlers from all over the country this summer.

“It’s the first time these handlers’ life for most of them that they’ll ever rely on an animal for the success of their career,” said Ashley Chase, a TSA trainer.

Handlers and their canines run through a serious of exercises throughout the program. The teams train in a mock airport terminal, with real people. The dogs also learn to sniff out any threats inside baggage and even venture inside of a train car.

Chase says it’s a job only fit for canines because of their special abilities. She told CBS42 News that humans may smell regular chocolate chip cookies, but dogs smell in more detail.

“Dogs will actually smell the individual ingredients, so you’re talking chocolate sugar the butter the actual cocoa that’s in there and we utilize that,” Chase said.

Every canine has their thing, for Aki it’s his tennis ball. The tennis ball serves as his treat for a job well done, and he doesn’t even realize he’s working.

“It’s a game to these dogs,” Davis said. “Whatever he does, as soon as he finds his odor first thing he’s going to go up and indicate is that he wants his reward.”

They’ll continue that came, but a much more serious game, in Birmingham.

“We’ll go home get him acclimated to the area the surrounding areas and put him to work,” Davis said.

Aki will join the canine force and will work towards making sure you, me and all of us are safe. Once he officially gets to work, he’ll sport his “Do Not Pet” sign, so if you see him out and about, remember he’s on the clock.

“He’s got little things that when he starts to detect odor little things that he starts to do so we have to learn each other, he has a certain pace he likes to work at I had to figure out what that pace was,” said Davis.

Once Aki gets acclimated to his new home in Birmingham, he’ll sport his ‘Do Not Pet’ sign and will be seen sniffing all over the area.

CBS42 News Reporter Brit Moorer will introduce you to the duo tonight on CBS42 News At 10.

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