NORTH CHARLESTON, SC–On this day we honor all veterans–even the four legged ones. Today in North Charleston, law enforcement from all over the southeast spent the morning certifying dogs for explosive detection.
These law enforcement groups spent the morning at the CARTA maintenance facility certifying a range of breeds from Dutch Shepherds, to German shepherds and Labrador retrievers. The dogs were sniffing around and inside the CARTA buses in a mock bomb detection event.
News 2 got an inside look into the certification process. We heard the story of Gage, a dog who served our country in Afghanistan.
Gage is a 7-year-old black Labrador Retriever. He is a veteran and now works as an explosive detection dog for the Charleston County Sheriff’s Office. Today’s environment is a change from where he originally trained. Gage served with the Marine core in Afghanistan for three years
Billy Brinson is Gage’s handler. When they are not working, Gage comes home with Brinson and lives in his home. Brinson explains how Gage started his career as an explosive detector.
“They use the dogs to clear the area before they go through them,” Brinson says. “Over there, they would send the dog out far ahead of them and he would circle back towards them making sure that the route or whatever it is that they’re trying to go through is clear of explosives.”
The odors are the same for Gage as he sniff’s to pass part of his certification on the CARTA buses.
The biggest difference is the leash. in Afghanistan, he was cut loose to patrol a much larger area. Brinson says Gage doesn’t seem to mind the change. “It’s a little slower life here than it is in Afghanistan,” he stated.
Dogs like Gage can experience PTSD like symptoms after serving in war. Brinson said he does not see any of those characteristics in Gage. When he’s not sniffing out explosives, he’s like any other happy dog.
Gage has transitioned to his new job back in the states and passed his certification today with rave reviews from organizers. Master Trainer for the American Police Work Dog Association Matthew Hall says Gage was great as he executed the test.
“This dog flourished in a standoff detection mode,” Hall pointed out. “He’s used to working off lead in desert environments and working away from his handler and locating i-e-d’s and explosive devices.”
Gage is a hero and American lives would be different without his service.
“He had three i-e-d finds while he was over there,” Brinson described. “So he saved a few lives.”