Everyone on the House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Oversight and Management Efficiency (a name which just rolls off the tongue) was recently in agreement on one thing no matter which political party they hail from. Dogs are great. Specifically, the dogs which are trained to work with their human partners in K-9 units serving in ICE, the Border Patrol and the TSA. That last group reportedly has more than 800 human-canine partner teams working at airports around the country. And why wouldn’t you love them? They are trained to sniff out bombs, drugs, corpses and pretty much anything else you might be on the lookout for and they work for biscuits.
But even this topic couldn’t escape at least a bit of controversy. One Republican congressman from Alabama wanted to know why the TSA was bringing in dogs from other countries when there are so many American dogs still out of work. (Okay… he didn’t exactly say that, but you get the idea.) That had the agency on the defensive trying to explain how they “source” their dogs. (Government Executive)
Rep. Gary Palmer, R-Ala., provided the only contentious moments of the hearing when he questioned Harvey on TSA’s dog procurement practices. Palmer noted that he himself had recently been at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport and saw very few canine teams…
Palmer, a member of the conservative Freedom Caucus, pressed Harvey on the procurement issue, citing Trump’s “Buy American, Hire American” executive order. Harvey assured Palmer that the TSA has “an interagency agreement with DoD. We use the same vendors that they use . . . We also have a couple of agreements with domestic vendors from which we also get dogs.”
Still, Palmer complained that TSA dogs were being “foreign sourced.”
I’m not sure if this is exactly what Trump meant when he talked about Buy American, Hire American, but hey… why not? And while it may seem humorous at first glance, Congressman Palmer wasn’t kidding around. He continued grilling the TSA official for a while, asking why they had a “preference” for foreign born and trained dogs rather than American pooches. Melanie Harvey of the TSA told Palmer that they, “have a large requirement for our large number of dogs,” but the TSA would be working to, “ramp up procurement of dogs from domestic vendors.”
I’m sorry, but do we really have a dog shortage? You can read about their K-9 training program here and it has a lot of good information, but it doesn’t mention where the dogs are coming from. Are they only buying designer dogs from breeders or something? When we recently went to get out latest dog, Jake Yapper, I saw a lot of younger dogs of various breeds waiting for adoption at the county dog shelter. Gizmodo says that the best bomb sniffing dog breeds are German Shepherds, Belgian Shepherds and Labrador Retrievers, but there are others out there who pass the training and get jobs like that. With all of the dogs waiting for homes in shelters around the country, why would we ever need to be buying foreign dogs to import? And who’s doing the extreme vetting on these dogs?
Things that make you go hmmm.