The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) announced that it plans to use floppy-eared dogs instead of pointy-eared ones for security screenings in an attempt to reduce fear at airports. The agency says that dogs with cone-shaped ears scare children.
“We’ve made a conscious effort… 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.”
Currently, only about 20 percent of the TSA’s 1,200 dogs have pointy ears. These include breeds like German Shepherds and Belgian Malinois. Over the past few ears, the agency has focused on acquiring more “sporting” breeds with droopy ears, like Labrador retrievers, Vizslas, and golden retrievers.
However, TSA says that not all of the pointy-eared pups will automatically be replaced with floppy-eared breeds. According to TSA’s assistant administrator for strategic communication and public affairs, Michael Bilello, each dog will be evaluated on their skills and demeanor before deciding whether to retire them.
“What we’re looking to do is employ more floppy-eared dogs because they’re just not as intimidating. They’re a little more inviting and welcoming,” he explained. He went on to add that a dog’s ability is just as crucial, however: “A capable, trained canine is a valued asset. Clearly, the dog’s capabilities, the dog’s competence is most important.”
The agency also says that the popular “police dog” breeds, which have pointy ears, will continue to serve in roles with less passenger interaction, like detecting bombs in baggage.