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Gun-Sniffing Dog Starts New Role at Mall of America

The Mall of America (MOA) has implemented an innovative security measure by introducing its first gun-sniffing dog to the team. This move comes in response to a series of high-profile shootings over the last couple of years, prompting the mall to enhance its safety protocols. The introduction of a canine unit capable of detecting firearms marks a significant evolution in the mall’s security approach, which has traditionally focused on the detection of explosives.

Mall of America introduces gun-sniffing dogs to its K-9 force

For the past two decades, the MOA has employed K9 units to sniff out explosives, adapting over time to the shifting landscape of public safety threats. Recently, the mall has decided to expand its canine capabilities to include firearm detection, a relatively novel concept in security. All eight dogs in the MOA’s K9 force are undergoing an intensive eight-week in-house training program, learning to identify the distinct components that make up a firearm — per KSTP-TV.

Kenny McDonough, the mall’s Canine Lt., emphasized the specialized nature of this training. The dogs are taught to silently signal the presence of a firearm, focusing specifically on identifying the individual carrying the weapon. According to McDonough, the goal is to accurately trace the scent of a gun to its bearer without resorting to aggressive behaviors like barking or biting.

In addition, Will Bernhjelm, the head of security at MOA, highlighted the evolution of the mall’s security focus from primarily explosives in the wake of 9/11 to now include firearms. He noted the new challenges that come with training the dogs to track moving targets, such as individuals, as opposed to static objects like bags or suitcases.

“It’s also a deterrent for people that may want to come here with a firearm knowing that we have this capability, maybe they’re not going to come here now. And maybe they’re not going to bring the firearm,” said Bernhjelm.


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