Barletta Backs American-bred Explosive Detection Dogs

Dec 13, 2017
Press Release

WASHINGTON – Today, the House Committee on Homeland Security passed a bill supporting the use of American-bred canines for the Transportation Security Administration (TSA).  H.R. 4577, the Domestic Explosives Detection Canine Capacity Building Act of 2017 would direct TSA and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to develop a domestic dog breeding network to produce high quality, American-bred explosive detection dogs. 

Congressman Lou Barletta (PA-11), an original cosponsor of the bill, sees an upside for the University of Pennsylvania, one of two major American universities with expertise related to explosive detection dogs and dog breeding.  “The University of Pennsylvania is a national leader in dog detection research,” Barletta said. 

“They have trained 75 dogs over the past five years with a very high, 93 percent graduation rate for detection work.  I think if we leverage the expertise of universities like UPenn, we can really develop a robust American-bred dog network for explosive detection.  In a time of increasing dangers from terrorism, America needs to focus resources on combatting that threat.  This bill will utilize our nation’s tremendous knowledge and research expertise, provided by schools like UPenn, to develop a critical resource in America’s fight against terrorism.” 

Dr. Cindy Otto, Director of the Penn Vet Working Dog Center at the University of Pennsylvania School Of Veterinary Medicine, also sees the benefits of American-bred explosive detection dogs. 

“We know that detection dogs represent one of the most effective means to combat terrorism, but these dogs are in short supply and many programs rely on foreign sources of dogs,” Dr. Otto said.  “An American-bred Explosive Detection Dog network represents a tremendous opportunity to apply scientific principles to increase the availability, health, and success of detection dogs in support of national security. The knowledge that we have gained over the past 5 years at the Penn Vet Working Dog Center gives us the confidence that a collaborative breeding program will fill this critical need.”  

The bill directs TSA and DHS to establish relationships with domestic canine breeders, proven vendors, leading veterinarians, and industry associations to create scientifically-grounded standards that reflect the latest in canine science.  These standards are designed to improve canine breeding, health, and training to create a more robust supply of explosive detection dogs for America’s national security.

Currently, the University of Pennsylvania is one of America’s leading universities providing detection dog research.  Barletta, a known advocate for animal related issues, sees “man’s best friend” as a critical tool to America’s homeland security arsenal. 

“Dogs are amazing animals,” he said.  “I am very excited to link the exceptional research capabilities of America’s universities like U. Penn. with our national security agencies in the fight against terrorism.”