July 06, 2007
SUPER TROOPERS – The Local 1847 canine handlers at Portland International Airport include (left to right) Joel Buchanon with Roxy, George Ortega with Dane, Mike Oester with Linda, and Wes Barr with Fero.
For the second year in a row, four “bomb sniffing” dogs and their handlers – members of the Port of Portland Police Local 1847 (Council 75) – have won perfect scores during a test of their ability to detect explosives.
Four dogs, four handlers, four tests, four perfect scores – two years running. “It was extremely unusual for it to happen last year,” acknowledges Local 1847 Pres. Mike Oester, who is in charge of one of the winning dogs, a Dutch Shepherd named Linda. “To do it two years in a row is – without trying to sound self-serving – just unbelievable.”
The other three winning Local 1847 explosive-sniffing teams are Wes Barr and his German Shepherd, Fero; Joel Buchanon and Roxy, also a Dutch Shepherd; and George Ortega and Dane, an English Springer Spaniel. The dogs live with their handlers, and all work at the Portland International Airport.
Each team is tested annually by the Transportation Safety Administration (TSA). During the latest test, in June, evaluators planted explosives for the dogs to locate. “We’re tested in the terminal, vehicles, the warehouse, luggage areas and so on,” says Oester. Although they’re not allowed to reveal how many or what kinds of explosives the dogs can detect, there’s no doubt that they’re very good at their jobs. So good, in fact, that the U.S. Secret Service often borrows them to secure areas when high-ranking officials visit.
Their achievement should make the traveling public glad that these AFSCME members and their canine partners are on the lookout for the bad guys. Says Barr: “It’s positive for us, positive for the airport and the Port of Portland, and it shows the public that we’ve been training a lot and know what we’re doing.”