Animal Care Club
A Visit from Westchester County Police's Explosives Detection Team
A dog that can sniff out dynamite? And TNT?
“Todd can detect 22 different explosives odors,” said Police Officer George Varbero, referring to his partner Canine Officer Todd, an explosives detection dog with the Westchester County Police Department.
John Jay Middle School's Animal Care Club hung on every word.
The November 29 visit was arranged by club advisor and math teacher Jane Williams, with assistance from the District’s School Resource Officer Brett Schlosser. “The students asked many thought-provoking questions and learned all about the process for training police service dogs,” said Williams.
Meet Canine Officer Todd
The Club and Visitors
Officer Varbero explained that Todd conducts explosives sweeps for dignitaries and travelers leaving from and arriving at Westchester County Airport. He’s also loaned out to federal law enforcement agencies.
Through an informal Q&A session, the students learned that Todd came from Puppies Behind Bars and joined the county police department as a ten-month-old. While he didn’t have the singular focus necessary for a service dog, his gift for investigating his environment is just what an explosives detection dog needs.
The students were surprised to hear that Officer Varbero hides a little piece of explosive material each evening around his home. When Todd finds it, he’s rewarded with dinner. “He’s a food-reward dog,” said Officer Varbero, referring to the training style that works best with Labs.
Time for fun
The team demonstrated their work for the club members. While Todd’s back was turned, two students each hid a bag that Officer Varbero gave them. One had a bit of explosive material in it. On command, Todd sniffed the students, nosed around a few of their backpacks, then went straight to the bag with the substance in it. He paused for a moment, then galloped to Officer Varbero for his reward.
Then came the moment the students were waiting for.
“Sit,” said Officer Varbero.
The students gathered around Todd, delighted to pet his sleek black fur.