Report exposes deficiencies in bomb-sniffing dog training

by: Tom Regan Updated:

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ATLANTA —

A government report obtained by Channel 2 Action News exposes deficiencies in the program the Transportation Security Administration uses to train passenger-screening canines at airports.

The report is based on an investigation by the Government Accountability Office, a watchdog agency that monitors use of taxpayers' dollars for Congress.

"Some canine teams were repeatedly not in compliance with TSA's monthly training requirement," is among the concerns listed in the report.

Another finding focused on mistakes made by dogs during training.

"During training exercises, PSC teams demonstrated mixed results detecting some explosive odors on "passengers" but missing others and falsely detecting them where no explosives existed (false positive)."

The report, released in January, makes recommendations to improve training and the use of passenger-screening dogs.

As Channel 2 Action News first reported last week, a TSA dog attacked and bit a woman standing in the baggage claim area of the south terminal at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. Susan Dubitsky told Channel 2's Tom Regan the dog punctured skin on her stomach and caused bleeding and bruising.

A TSA official in Atlanta told Regan the dog, which was being handled by an Atlanta police officer, is not part of the training program criticized in the government report. He said those dogs are handled by TSA employees and are used in other airports.

Nevertheless, Dubitsky said she was troubled by the report and disappointed that the TSA has put the dog that bit her back into service.

"This never should have happened. If a police officer hurt someone, they would put him on some temporary leave, so why should this dog be different than that. They need to find out why the dog did this," said Dubitsky.

The TSA and Atlanta police have opened an investigation in the incident