JAX flyers screened by new bomb sniffing dogs get extra perk

Boomer, Zippe brought in as part of nationwide security increase

By Joy Purdy - 5:30, 6:30 & 11 p.m. anchor

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Starting this week, flyers in and out of Jacksonville International Airport may be greeted by Boomer and Zippe -- two new bomb-sniffing dogs.

The Transportation Safety Administration brought them to JAX as part of a nationwide increase in security at major airports.

Don't let their cute faces fool you! Donald Deason, a K9 handler, said Boomer and Zippe are both on missions to sniff out explosive materials among passengers waiting in line at the airport.

"Think of a cigarette and how the wind blows," Deason said. "If it's invisible to us but we could smell it, we could probably trace it -- use air currents, which way is the wind blowing. That's how a dog works."

Deason said one obstacle: There are many travelers who don't like being close to dogs they don't know.

"Some people have a fear of dogs. They look at the dog and don't want to go near," Deason said. "We tell them the dog won't hurt you, won't attack, just wants to sniff."

Besides being an extra safety feature, there's another perk to having these pooches around. 

The TSA says travelers who are screened by the dogs while in line will get through the entire screening process faster. That means they won't have to take off their shoes, belt or jacket, and a laptop can stay inside its case.

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