August 25, 2006
A recently foiled terrorist plot to destroy airliners in flight has created a ripple effect on many industries; one being an increased interest in the extraordinary canine officers who patrol airports.
This story is about Gunny, Albemarle County's own canine weapon against terrorists and criminals.
Whether its patrolling for explosives during terror alerts at the Charlottesville-Albemarle Airport; sniffing out pipe bombs after an explosion in Scottsville; responding to bomb threats at a local bank, or tracking down a key piece of evidence like the gun allegedly used at a recent Red Carpet Inn shooting; K-9 Officer Gunny's quick detection makes him a top dog in Albemarle County.
"He's really good at what he does,” said Gunny's handler Officer Bill Saulle.
Saulle demonstrated Gunny's capabilities after hiding explosive material in the front of a vehicle.
“Find,” he said to Gunny. In seconds, Gunny finds important evidence that could take a team of officers’ days to search for by hand.
Gunny, a Belgian Malinois is one of three dogs on the county police force. However, Gunny is the only dog trained specifically to sniff out bombs and explosives.
“[There are] 11 to 12 odors that we are trained in. With those odors, the combinations make up thousands and thousands of different types of explosive devices,” explained Saulle.
Nine-year-old Gunny joined the Albemarle County Police Force in 2003 and even before coming here he worked the most serious of cases.
“On 9/11 I believe it was at least three weeks that he was on a rotating shift to protect the Pentagon,” said Saulle.
In the age of terror and with criminals constantly finding new weapons, Gunny is always updating his training to make sure he is equipped to find any explosive. Since he is 9 years old, he will be replaced in just one or two years.