BIG FLATS, N.Y. (18 NEWS) - Some new recruits had a "paw-esome" day of training at the Elmira-Corning Regional Airport on Wednesday.
It's the second year that trainers with Guiding Eyes for the Blind took a trip to the airport. They like taking the opportunity to familiarize dogs with the security checkpoint process.
"This is a super valuable experience for everybody involved," Transport Security Administration spokeswoman Lisa Farbstein said. "For the Guiding Eyes group, for TSA and for the airport."
The training starts with the dogs walking through the metal detectors with their service vests on. Some vests trigger the alarm, some don't. Either way TSA officers pat the dogs down to ensure nothing is tucked under the vest. Then they swab the trainers hands.
"They take that cloth that's on the swabbing device and they're going to put it in the machine and that's checking for any traces of explosives," Farbstein said.
Volunteer Puppy Raisers for Guiding Eyes for the Blind said this type of training is essential in preparing the dogs for service.
"We're always trying to find real life situations for them and so something like this is, the noises, the strange people around, touching them things like that, it's just imperative for them," Puppy Raiser Alysha Williams said.
But it's not just the dogs who are getting some practice.
"It's a good opportunity for our TSA officers to get additional practice screening service animals," Farbstein said.
And even though these dogs may fly out of much bigger airports someday, officials say the experience is essentially the same.
"It's the same experience whether they're at Elmira or where they're at LaGuardia or JFK or Dallas or Boston or Chicago or LA," Farbstein said.
And though Wednesday exercise was just for practice, it won't be long before some of these dogs experience the real deal.
"It's good to get in some practice because it's out of the ordinary, a lot of things going on around them," Airport Manager Bill Hopper said. "And it's just really good to get them to experience that, work out the kinks before they have to do it for real someday."
TSA officials said they scheduled the training during the middle of the day when there were no departures so they didn't delay any passengers.
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