Dogs will increase the security level at Savannah Hilton Head International

There is an increase in the security level at Savannah's airport and you can thank the officer with four legs.

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) will be utilizing two canine teams over the busy spring break and St. Patrick’s Day holidays. Jason Houk is a TSA Specialist Explosive Detection Canine Handler, and recently he demonstrated with his partner Wild Bill, the German Shorthaired Pointer who is his partner.

The 7-year-old dog is trained to sniff out explosives or components of explosives. When a decoy walked by carrying a product that shouldn’t be at an airport, the dog quickly reacted. “First and foremost, the dogs are here for passenger’s safety and their security,” said Houk. “The dogs are an additional layer and passengers should actually feel calmer with this extra security rather than feeling any type of anxiety.” A second canine team will be joining them shortly. Even though the airport's security checkpoint has expensive equipment, regional TSA spokesman Mark Howell says dogs “give you an instantaneous real time assessment of a threat. And you can move them wherever you need to, so that’s huge. We can take them even outside the airport environment.” He indicated our airport is recovering faster than many others considering the number of passengers. “We’re already above 2019 levels of passenger loads on some days now,” he said.

Howell says the last time there was a St. Patrick’s Day parade (in 2019) the airport’s busiest day was 5,200 passengers. He expects this year, there may be in excess of 6,000 passengers for a few days during spring break and St. Patrick’s Day.

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