State Police add “vapor wake” K-9 to ranks


LANSING, Mich (WLNS) – We’ve all see the headlines of people carrying backpacks containing explosives into public spaces.

Sometimes their actions result in death, other times the public is spared.

And now our state has a “new line” of defense against these threats.

They’re called “vapor wake dogs” and the Michigan State Police has been gifted one of them.

He’s a genetically bread Labrador named Louie, and his handler is Michigan State Police Trooper Tim Johnson.

“Their sense of smell is greater than human beings. It’s not that we can’t smell the odor but we have to be much closer to it and there’s no way we can follow it like the dogs do,” explains Trooper Johnson.

Louie is a 15-month-old Lab, still a puppy, but ready to work.

He’s called a vapor wake dog, trained to detect the scent of explosives when they are in motion or in a crowd.

“If you’re walking in a mall and man or woman walks by you with perfume or cologne on you get a couple steps past that person after they’ve passed you smell that in the air, the perfume. And that’s the way the dog does the vapor wake,” adds Trooper Johnson.

The two tested out their skills this past weekend walking through the crowds at Michigan State before the football game.

“He’ll grab the odor and then try to figure out what person has it on them and then trail the odor until they come across the person that has it on them and continued to follow them until the person stops,” says trooper Johnson. “So he is locked on the lady that’s walking at a faster rate than all the other people and he will follow continue follow her until she stops or we tell her to stop.”

If these dogs pick up the scent of a bomb they can follow the vapor plume up to the length of several football fields.

Louie and other dogs like him are trained at Auburn University in Alabama.

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