ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — A Tampa Bay-area school district has employed gun-sniffing dogs to patrol schools and alert authorities to firearms.
Beginning next week, the Labrador retrievers Macy and Roo will start making the rounds at Pinellas County Schools. The dogs can sniff-out shell casings and guns, even ones that haven't been fired in years, and they can tell the difference between real firearms and toys or BB guns.
The dogs will survey each school at least twice during the academic year in addition to responding to rumors and threats, and they will be used at events such as high school football games.
"There have been very few instances where we've found guns on campus, but they're becoming more prevalent in our society and every so often a student makes a wrong decision," Superintendent Michael Grego said Wednesday at a news conference. "This is a really proactive and visual way to show that there's no reason why there should be one gun on campus."
The Firearms Detection K-9 teams were bought and trained with a $24,000 grant received by the St. Petersburg Police Department.
The dogs should help ease parents' worries about school safety in the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Connecticut in 2012, said Assistant Police Chief Melanie Bevan.
Unlike other K-9 teams that perform a variety of tasks, Macy and Roo are trained just to sniff out the chemical residue on guns and shell casings, said Pinellas County Schools Police Officer Dave Harrison.