Chris Shelton

On January 12, 2020 MSA Security® was preparing for a canine detection demo at a cargo warehouse in Hong Kong. When entering the facility, Technical Detection Canine (TDC), Sarge pulled toward cargo that had previously undergone security screening via X-ray, not once, but twice. Sarge persisted, passively sitting next to the screened cargo several times, indicating to his handler that he had identified the odor of a lithium ion battery. His handler requested that the facility conduct additional screening, and after a physical search of the pallet, a lithium ion battery was found. Sarge proved to us again the incredible capacity of detection dogs in security screening.

Sarge HK-1


Sarge HK Demo LIB

There is a growing cargo industry concern related to the threat presented by lithium ion batteries. This, combined with 2016 regulations governed by The International Air Transport Association (IATA) which prohibit lithium ion batteries on passenger aircraft, has resulted in increased focus on the need for technical detection screening in the cargo environment. With an unparalleled sense of smell, detection dogs have a unique ability to sniff out odors, smelling in layers, which allows them to recognize and discern an individual ingredient even when masked by other odors. A properly imprinted and trained canine can successfully detect any specific odor – including that of lithium ion batteries.


In fact, a TDC team is currently the only effective method for the discovery and identification of lithium ion batteries.

  • Trace Detection Machines: Although capable of detecting explosive material, lithium X-ray image of lithium batterybatteries do not contain the explosive materials that trace detection machines are calibrated to detect.
  • X-ray Machines: Human image interpretation coupled with false positives on inorganic items of similar shape and size make accurate detection of lithium batteries through X-ray unattainable.


MSA Security® is the largest private provider of Explosive Detection Canine teams in America. For over 30 years, we have adapted our world-class training methodology into a comprehensive aviation solution for technical detection.

  • Effective: Canines can detect specific odors down to parts-per-trillion and can be trained to consistently detect lithium ion batteries among various cargo containers.
  • Efficient: Canines can screen pallets in as little as 6 seconds, more than 10 times faster than X-ray or trace detection.
  • Dynamic: Canines can swiftly move around the cargo to conduct a search without interfering with the operational or freight environments.


Supporting Aviation Security

MSA offers customized solutions for organizations of every size and scope, designed to seamlessly integrate with existing shipping operations and processes. With offices and training facilities in key global markets from New York City to Hong Kong, MSA's Canine Program continues to scale rapidly, deploying to new client sites every month.



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