The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) announced an 11-year-old explosive detection canine who works at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport (MSP) in St. Paul, Minnesota, was voted the winner of TSA’s 2022 Cutest Canine Contest.
The TSA held a nationwide social media contest on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook and encouraged members of the public to vote for the agency’s “cutest canine.” Once all the votes were tallied, Eebbers emerged the winner. The contest was held in recognition of National Dog Day to acknowledge the important role TSA’s hardworking canines play in protecting the nation’s transportation system. Preliminary voting among TSA employees narrowed the field of 92 contenders to the final four canines.
This year’s winner was one of four TSA canine candidates that also included Ava and Messi from Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA) and Tom-Magnum from John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK). The canines were nominated by TSA handlers from airports around the country and voted on by dog lovers nationwide.
Eebbers, a Vizsla-Labrador mix, is a passenger screening canine (PSC) who works at MSP alongside his handler as they screen travelers and their belongings for explosives at the security checkpoint as an added layer of security. Eebbers has worked at MSP for almost 10 years. He was born into TSA’s Puppy Program at Lackland and was named in memory of 19 year old U.S. Army Pvt. James Ebbers who passed away October 14, 2002 in Dijbuoti, Africa while assigned to the 551st Military Police Company, Fort Campbell, Kentucky. He is the last remaining canine from the Puppy Program still working daily for TSA.
Eebbers has assisted with security for two Super Bowls, the Special Olympics World Games, a NCAA National Championship Football game, the Indianapolis 500 and a NASCAR event. He stays very active every day, even during the cold Minnesota winters, and he loves swimming in any of Minnesota’s 10,000 lakes in the summer.
TSA utilizes canines like Eebbers in its security operations nationwide. They are trained to detect the scent of explosives or explosive materials. These highly-skilled dogs are paired with handlers who utilize the working canine’s keen sense of smell when on duty throughout busy transportation environments.
Travelers departing, arriving and walking through the nation’s airports routinely see PSC teams working around passengers. These teams nimbly work through large groups of people to detect the source of a potential explosive. PSC handlers train frequently with their canines and learn how to interpret canine behaviors when the dog detects an explosive scent.
If a dog alerts its handler to the presence of an explosive odor, TSA follows an established procedure to resolve the alarm. The use of these highly-trained canines is an effective tool in deterring and detecting the introduction of explosive devices into the nation’s transportation systems.
Because explosives are known to be the greatest threat to the aviation system, TSA’s working canines are regularly tested to ensure they maintain a high standard of operational effectiveness. This continual training allows for all teams to be a reliable resource in detecting an explosive threat, maintaining proper acclimation within the airport, and mitigating against potential distractions in a busy transportation environment.
Currently, TSA has more than 1,000 canine teams that were trained at the TSA Canine Training Center in San Antonio. They are deployed nationally. While TSA’s canine partners are sociable, they are working dogs and should only be touched and fed by their handlers.
Later this year, TSA will announce the availability of its 2023 Canine Calendar, featuring the top 12 runners up in the 2022 Cutest Canine Contest. Eebers will be the canine featured on the cover of the 2023 calendar.