The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

Lifestyle

May 27, 2013

Dogs trained in Anniston used in NYC, DC

(Continued)

Andrea Turley, kennel master, works with the puppies from birth until they're sent to the prisons.

"We socialize them and try to get them out in the public," Turley said. "We get them used to different environments and noises."

The dogs return to the center when they're a year old and are tested to see if they have the right personality for vapor-wake training.

Pearce said the purebred black and yellow Labs are the type most people would not want as house pets.

"This is the dog people call and complain about and say 'it's tearing my house up,'" he joked.

They're high-energy dogs that Pearce described as professional athletes.

"Kind of like somebody that's not doing anything but training for the Olympics, that's what they're doing. They're training for that and they love every minute of it," Pearce said.

Pearce said the program has used Labs since it started 12 years ago because of their temperament and ability to be placed in different situations without fear of someone getting hurt.

The vapor-wake dogs usually work in crowded spaces where it's easy to have a paw stepped on by a passerby.

"If you step on the paw of a German shepherd you might get bit," Pearce said. "If you do with a Lab you might just get a yelp out of them."

Pearce said the Labs in the vapor-wake program are trained for six weeks and the person at the law enforcement agency who will be handling the dog must pass a training certification as well.

Jesica Fleming, an instructor with the program, said Unity had been in training for 28 days and was thriving. First, Fleming introduces odors associated with explosives to the dogs and then trains them to track that scent on a person walking by.

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