The U.S. Transportation Security Administration is looking for active, energetic Bryan-College Station households to volunteer as foster homes for a new litter of puppies bred for the National Explosives Detection Canine Team Program. The puppies will be delivered to foster homes by June 1, said Laura Spencer, deputy director of the Integrative Center for Homeland Security (ICHS) at Texas A&M University.
ICHS serves as local liaison for the TSA Puppy Program, which selectively breeds, raises and prepares puppies to be future explosives-detection dogs within the National Explosives Detection Canine Team Program. Dogs that graduate from training are assigned to airports and mass transit systems. TSA seeks highly active foster homes in Bryan-College Station for puppies nationwide. The program is located at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio.
“TSA wants households that will make these puppies active members of their families,” Spencer said. “When they grow up, these dogs must be able to cope with all sorts of people, from old to young, and with all sorts of very dynamic, very crowded environments. The more interaction they have with people, the better.”
The program depends on volunteer families in Texas to raise the puppies between the ages of 9 weeks and 12 months before they can enter explosives detection training. During this time, they are responsible for providing the pups with a well-rounded, socialized and nurturing environment. To help, people in the foster home have the opportunity to participate in an orientation before receiving the dog, and are provided a puppy-raising guidebook. The TSA staff is available anytime for questions or emergencies.
The program also supplies food, equipment and medical care for the puppies while in foster care. The puppies are returned to the program for one week each month for medical and behavioral evaluation, at which time the program provides feedback to the foster families on how the puppy is developing. At approximately one year of age, the pups are returned to the program to start their official training.
Potential puppy foster homes must have a secure fenced yard, a vehicle in which the pup can be transported and no more than two other dogs in the home.
Applications and more information are available on line at: http://homelandsecurity.tamu.edu/tsapuppies.