Team of canines work to reduce threat at Charleston International Airport

Team of canines work to reduce threat at Charleston International Airport

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - Brit.  Barry. Jack.  Gginley.

On any given day, this four-legged force is nosing through cargo at Charleston International Airport, in yet another step to beef up airport security.

"If you see the canines or not, they're out all the time," said Mark Howell, a regional spokesperson for the Transportation Security Administration (TSA).

Charleston's canine team, which consists of three German Shepherds and one Labrador retriever, spent weeks training at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas.

TSA canine handler Jason Hollingsworth said dogs begin training when they're young, and are selected based on individual drive.

"They're trained for a non-aggressive response to explosives," Howell added.

According to TSA officials, the common response is often to sit or place their nose on an item once a threat has been identified.

One at a time, dogs search through cargo at CHS during peak travel times, and at random.  Officials also call on the canine team for large scale community events like the Cooper River Bridge Run.

"He's always working," said Hollingsworth of his 6-year old black labrador, Gginley.

"If he runs into odor, he'll still work it."

Gginley, named for New York fireman John Ginley, is one of many TSA canines named in honor of a September 11th victim.

The Transportation Security Administration or (TSA) was created in the wake of the 2001 tragedy.

To date, over 800 canine teams work to secure airports throughout the United States.

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