Thanks to DBusiness for this:
According to Greg Guidice, president and CEO of Elite Detection K9 in Auburn Hills, humans can easily smell a teaspoon of sugar in a regular sized cup of coffee.
Scent-detection canines, on the other hand, can smell that same teaspoon of sugar in the amount of coffee that it would take to fill two Olympic-sized swimming pools (1.3 million gallons).
Founded in September 2018, the offshoot of Leader Dogs for the Blind formed after Guidice and his research task force realized there was a shortage of 6,000 explosive dogs in the U.S. that year. He saw an even more specific shortage that his new business, EDK9, could fill.
“They wanted to go to a gentler-looking dog, like a Lab, rather than a pointy-eared dog,” Guidice says. “When they’re in an airport, they want the dog to get close to people. Most people aren’t afraid of a Lab, but they are afraid of a shepherd. The same is true in high schools.”
Ric Hetu, master trainer at EDK9, takes the dogs through training that ends with them becoming certified to detect 25 to 30 odors at 12 months old. The dogs can then patrol events like music festivals for explosives and firearms. Clients can also request a handler/dog team, both trained by EDK9, to provide security at public events.
The company has contracts with Johns Hopkins University and the U.S. Department of the Airforce to breed dogs for the TSA and U.S. Department of Defense, respectively. Avondale High School in Auburn Hills also has implemented a team for security, and has offered its facilities for after-hours training purposes.
James Schwarz, superintendent of the Avondale School District, says in today’s world, there’s no such thing as taking too many precautions. “The student response has been really good. Almost seamless. We’re totally transparent with the kids. They know the dog, they know why the dog is there, they know it’s a munitions dog,” Schwarz says. “We weren’t going to try to pull the wool over anyone’s eyes.”
Since its inception, EDK9 has been nestled into the Leader Dogs facility. In November, it will open a 23,000-square-foot facility in Auburn Hills complete with villages — a large space where a group of dogs lives — for adult dogs, puppies, birthing dogs, and female and male breeding dogs, as well as a general veterinary clinic, and a surgery suite.
Designed for cleanliness, the villages are built with epoxy flooring and burnished block walls that enable easy cleaning. Ventilation systems cycle the air eight times per hour. “Of all the different instruments and ways of testing for explosives — some cost thousands and thousands of dollars — dogs do it better,” Hetu says.
Elite Detection K9 (Auburn Hills, Michigan)
National Association of Professional Canine Handlers (Taylor, Michigan)