They are the secret weapons of the bomb-sniffing world.
Specially-trained “Vapor Wake” dogs are no ordinary canine cops. These dogs have been bred with the genes and skill-set to detect even the faintest hint of explosive particles in the air that humans leave behind as they walk.
And they will be at the Super Bowl on Sunday in Atlanta as the New England Patriots take on the Los Angeles Rams in front of 75,000 people at Mercedes-Benz stadium. Tens of thousands more will be visiting the city just to be there for football’s biggest game.
Even sea of people, these dogs can track a scent long after a person carrying explosives has moved through a crowd.
“As you might imagine the threat level at such an event is considered high, and we go to great lengths to protect our teams and to put out as little information as possible leading up to the event as to not compromise existing security plans or measures,” Kristie Dober, VWK9’s director of business development, says.
But more than 20 Vapor Wake dogs will be at Super Bowl LIII. Their names and photos are under wraps.
Here at VWK9 we are soooooo!!!! excited about this weekend and all will be revealed on Monday. Meanwhile enjoy this image of our beautiful Vapor Wake® Labrador retrievers who are making our World a safer place with every inhalation. https://t.co/YQaZDwSyuI pic.twitter.com/kSbu0Bd657
— VWK9 International (@VWK9CANADA) February 2, 2019
The approach is different than traditional police and security dog training.
It’s even patented.
These dogs don’t just find weapons, drugs or bombs on people or in packages. They are bred and raised to “sniff out explosive particles in the ambient air left in a person’s thermal plume,” the Alabama-based company says.
Derek O’Rourke, VWK9’s director of international operations, described the “a-ha moment.”
“It was the Richard Reid attempted shoe bombing of American Airline Flight 63 in 2001 that prompted Auburn University to rethink how we screen for explosives,” he says.
Auburn University’s College of Veterinary Medicine went to work in their Canine Performance Sciences Lab.
The 18- to 20-month training program was developed for the dogs, which are a genetic cross between Australian Border Protection Labradors and U.S. Customs and Border Protection Labradors, according to the company.
Not every dog makes the cut.
Only after 11 months of life and following cognitive testing, neurological mapping and fMRI’s is it decided if members of the litter are good enough to become detection dogs. Vapor Wake® canines are only available from VWK9. https://t.co/ys23uYjs4t pic.twitter.com/62TZxPRHu0
— VWK9 International (@VWK9CANADA) January 8, 2019
The puppies undergo cognitive testing, are even raised in the Alabama prison system to get them used to a world as counter-terrorist explosive detection dogs, and then learn to sniff the air for traces of body-worn explosives before being paired with a handler for further training.
Now, 160 dogs are deployed throughout the United States.
Great picture of Vapor Wake® K9 “Tank” of CSUN Police Department along with his good friend and Law Enforcement partner “Daisy” at recent graduation ceremonies. Vapor Wake® dogs are exclusively available from VWK9 #bodywornexplosivedetection #explosivedetectiondogs pic.twitter.com/ZZTMaD9ClE
— VWK9 International (@VWK9CANADA) February 1, 2019
Police departments in Chicago, Detroit, New York and Los Angeles have them.
So does AMTRAK, and university police departments including Notre Dame and Michigan State as well as professional sports teams such as the Detroit Red Wings and Jacksonville Jaguars.
The dogs are put to work at special events.
The Grammy Awards, Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, New Year’s Eve at Times Square, and of course, the Super Bowl.
Vapor Wake®️K9 “Maddy” who enjoyed her time protecting attendees and supporters of the 60th Grammy Awards in 2018. Vapor Wake®️dogs are exclusively available from https://t.co/2zxPTsCE3S
— VWK9 International (@VWK9CANADA) January 25, 2019
They are also on paw patrol at concerts.
The dogs have ringing endorsements.
From the mayor of Lexington, Kentucky.
We have an amazing, professionally-trained Police Canine Unit in Lexington. These dogs, like Vapor Wake dog Tilly, and their human partners, like Officer Jarvis Harris, do amazing work for our city. After 50 years, they will have an updated facility from which to train & work. pic.twitter.com/5yWuDleWhZ
— Mayor Linda Gorton (@MayorGorton) January 28, 2019
To the New York Police Department, where they are part of the counterterrorism team.
— NYPD DCPI (@NYPDDCPI) September 27, 2018
And, Louisiana State University.
That’s where they are cruising the campus with the school’s police department.
Jazz and Weeks are new additions to the #LSU PD K-9 unit. These labs are trained as Vapor Wake Dogs. More: https://t.co/yR9llqotx2
Thanks to @LSUTAF, Claude Pennington and @PennFoundation for funding this endeavor. pic.twitter.com/ykM65GXMr2
— LSU (@LSU) September 21, 2018
As well as pro sports.
— AMK9 Academy (@TheAMK9Academy) January 19, 2016
The St. Louis Cardinals were the first big league sports franchise to add them to the roster.
The St. Louis Cardinals were the first sports entity in the world to purchase Vapor Wake® “A lot of people can breed dogs, but I’d rather have Auburn University sitting next to me in a court of law than Billy Bob the Breeder from the Ozarks.”
JOE WALSH, St. Louis Cardinals pic.twitter.com/0JZOZPjckG
— VWK9 International (@VWK9CANADA) January 20, 2019
No matter who wins the NFL’s biggest game, these dogs know their way around the gridiron to help keep everyone safe.
The NFL’s Pre-Season Hall of Fame opener was safeguarded by no less than (9) Vapor Wake®️ K9 teams #security #training #usa #research #events #event #canada #ontario #universities #airports #publicsafety #lawenforcement #festivals #concerts #vaporwake #bombdogs #haltonpolice pic.twitter.com/U5SOwrE4UK
— VWK9 International (@VWK9CANADA) November 12, 2018
While there are no specific threats directed at the Super Bowl, according to officials, they have ramped up security for the big game.
It is a massive undertaking.
— Super Bowl (@SuperBowl) January 21, 2019
Photos Vapor Wake