The Transportation Security Administration is making a small change to the dogs used throughout airports starting in the new year; now, instead of the seven breeds the agency typically uses, it will begin swapping out dogs with pointy ears in favor of those with floppy ears due to passenger comfort level.
If you enjoy seeing pointy-eared canine friends at airports, sorry to tell you this: The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is phasing those dogs out of their operations. The agency says that the motivating goal is to keep passengers at ease.
“We’ve made a conscious effort in TSA … to use floppy ear dogs,” TSA Administrator David Pekoske told the Washington Examiner. “We find the passenger acceptance of floppy ear dogs is just better. It presents just a little bit less of a concern. Doesn’t scare children.”
At this point, only 20 percent of the dogs used by the TSA have pointed ears, but as those dogs age out of the program and are retired from service, the agency is actively replacing them with floppy-eared ones. The agency has the second-highest number of canine employees out of every federal agency.
Overall, seven breeds of dog participate in the TSA program: German Shepherds, Labrador Retrievers, German Short-haired Pointers, Wirehaired Pointers, Vizslas, Belgian Malinois, and Golden Retrievers. Only two of those breeds, though—the German Shepherd and Belgian Malinois—have pointy ears.
No document outlining the change to use more floppy ear dogs was formally issued by the TSA; spokesperson Lisa Farbstein told the Washington Examiner it was more of an informal internal decision.