Two new additions to the Montgomery Bomb Squad are helping ease some students’ anxiety about feeling safe in school.
Thanks to the U.S. Marine Corp. downsizing its K-9 program, Montgomery's bomb squad just acquired two highly trained dogs for free, expanding its team to four dogs.
The newest additions, Penny and Sassy are female black labs with military training. Both dogs have served tours overseas in Afghanistan aside the U-S Marine Corp to sniff out bombs.
“Like bird dog, they are taught on the same kind of premise,” Sgt. Matthew Higgins, the Assistant Commander of the Bomb Squad, said. “They work off of whistle training and hand signals so that the military can actually send them out down the road without being directly attached to the dog.”
Higgins says in the military, the dogs are kenneled and shuffled between handlers each tour, but now Penny and Sassy will have permanent homes in Montgomery with police officers on the Bomb Squad.
The Montgomery Police Department picked up Penny and Sassy from North Carolina Friday, and already the dogs are making a difference in the community getting up close and personal with 4th and 5th graders at Wilson Elementary School.
“They actually know what the dogs are here for, what the dogs do,” said Stacey Rivers, a 4th grade teacher at Wilson Elementary School. “So if there's ever a situation at our school and the dogs do have to come into our school, they know that they are safe and not to be afraid of the dogs.”
4th and 5th graders toured the Montgomery Police Department, and many children said the dogs put them at ease and are happy they will be working in the Capitol City.
“These dogs have been in Afghanistan, helping fight for our country against crimes and terrorist,” 5th grader Jackson Faulk said. “Now they have a better home after we've adopted them [in Montgomery.”
“I think it’s really cool because they protect us from any terrorists around here and any people that try to hurt the community,” said Madison Davis, a 5th grader.
After the shooting massacre in Newtown Connecticut, some teachers say the dogs helped kids feel more comfortable being at school.
“Now that they know how well these dogs are trained to help protect us, I think it will kind of relieve some of that anxiety that these children are feeling,” Rivers said. “Because they can't help but feel the anxiety with everything that's on television, and so I think this was really a good healing process for them."
The Montgomery Police Department says it costs about $30,000 for trained explosive dogs like Penny and Sassy. So the city of Montgomery can thank the police department for reaching out to the U-S Marine Corp. and saving the city about $60,000.