The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) announced it would be phasing out pointy-eared patrol dogs at airports in favor of “floppy ear dogs” to ease the concerns of airport passengers.
“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,” Pekoske added. “Doesn’t scare children.”
The agency said it currently uses 1,200 patrol dogs at airports across the country, with 80 percent of those dogs sporting droopy ears. The remaining 20 percent of dogs employed by the agency have cone-shaped ears.
TSA spokeswoman Lisa Farbstein said the decision to replace the dogs was part of an “informal internal decision” not implemented through a formal policy change.
The agency uses five breeds of dogs with floppy ears— including Golden Retrievers, Labrador Retrievers, Wirehaired Pointers, German Short-Haired Pointers, and Vizlas.
But the agency added that it does use two breeds of pointy-eared dogs, such as the Belgian Malinois and the German Shepherd, in certain situations.
Regardless of the breed, choosing to bring on a security dog is a big investment for the TSA— the cost of training each dog can run from $26,000 to $42,000.
The agency also offers an adoption program for dogs that missed TSA’s “criteria for government work.”
“These dogs are highly active and in most cases, untrained and not house broken, but with proper training and care, they can be a great addition to families. On occasion, there are dogs that have been retired from government service,” according to a page on the TSA website.