The University of Notre Dame added two out of the ordinary employees to their team this year. They go by Skeet and Toxi, and they are a highly trained pair of Labrador retrievers.  Skeet and Toxi are the newest members of the Notre Dame Security Police (NDSP) team, paired with their handlers they are bringing a new level of security to the Notre Dame campus.

Skeet is three years old, and Toxi is 18-months old. Both are the first Vapor Detection dogs to be employed in Indiana. Toxi was a gift from a 1995 Notre Dame graduate, Jay Town, and his wife an Auburn Alumni, Dana. Toxi’s handler is police officer Jarett Gilpin, while Skeet’s handler is NDSP security officer Anthony Clark.

Vapor Detection Training and Technique

The two canines and their handlers training were conducted at VWK9 Academy, who holds the exclusive rights to train and sell the patented Vapor Detection technology developed out of Auburn University.  The canines have been bred, raised, and socialized to be able to work in high-pedestrian traffic areas. They can precisely screen thousands of pedestrians going through an entrance for the threat of an explosive device and able to locate a moving target in real time. These canines can screen unobtrusively without impeding traffic flow and have the advantage of being one of America’s most beloved breeds.  

What makes Vapor Detection dogs different from traditional bomb-sniffing dogs is that the conventional dogs can only locate statically placed explosive devices. Vapor Detection dogs are trained in multiple disciplines and can find statically set explosives like their counterparts, but have the unique ability to screen large pedestrian crowds for body-worn or carried bombs while people are moving.

As for this canine pair, Skeet and Toxi, they are trained to identify several types of explosive odors. Canines like Skeet and Toxi are also being employed in the various organization throughout the U.S.  You can find Vapor Detection canines in federal, state and local law enforcement, entertainment and sporting venues to include professional sporting events and Notre Dame is one of the first Universities among a growing list to add this advanced capability.

notre dame security police bomb detection protection vapor wake dogsThe Vapor Detection dogs’ handlers also went to Alabama to train for seven weeks alongside their canine partner. The process of choosing handlers was done by NDSP, and it is a competitive one.

Why Notre Dame Security Employs Vapor Detection Dogs

According to the chief and director of NDSP,  Keri Shibata, “We have been drawing K-9 resources from the surrounding area more frequently for large, high-profile events. Expecting an increased number of highly attended events in our new facilities, this is an important enhancement to our safety and security efforts at Notre Dame,” she said. “We will continue to work with local agencies and offer our new resources to aid local units.”

Viewed as gentler, loving, and non-intrusive dogs, Toxi and Skeet will be introduced to the local community and campus to desensitize people to their presence. This is also hoped to further calm people’s nerves that these canines are there to preserve the security of the community just like the presence of local police. It is predicted that this pair will be introduced in various community and campus events. However, the public is also cautioned that when these canines are at work, the public must refrain from distracting them.

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Photo Credit: Notre Dame Police Department