Christine Spigai

Following his high school graduation, on his 18th birthday, Nate Beckstrand joined his local fire company. He was a firefighter for five years in Nevada and Utah and considered it a privilege to serve the families in those communities. During that time, Nate had an opportunity to collaborate with the arson team for a first-hand look at the incredible sniffing capabilities of a canine. “Looking back, this was when I first became interested in canine handling. At a fire scene investigation, these dogs would pinpoint the location of accelerants – gasoline or diesel fuel, kerosene, charcoal fluid – whatever was used to ignite a fire,” explains Nate.

man standing with a German shepherd dog Fast forward to today, Nate is a proud MSA Canine Handler to four-year-old German Shepherd Bane who is trained to sniff out firearms. The duo works for a national mall client and are among more than 900 Canine Detection Teams at MSA Security®, An Allied Universal® Company, carrying out important work each day to keep millions of people safe. The National Retail Federation reports that nearly 60% of retail security executives report a concern with the rise in mass violence and active assailants over the last five years. This growing threat is a liability that endangers consumers, personnel, and brand. MSA Firearms Detection Canine Teams, like Nate and Bane, are specifically trained in addressing this threat.

For the first time in their two-year deployment, the pair recently responded to a “shots fired” alert in the mall. The active shooter incident followed a verbal altercation between rival groups. Arriving at the scene, Nate found a man suffering from a gunshot wound and bleeding heavily. Nate began first aid. The victim, who was in fact one of the gunmen, pulled his firearm on Nate. This quick-thinking and well-trained handler disarmed him, continuing to tourniquet and bandage the suspect until local law enforcement arrived. Great job Nate! No others were injured during this incident.


“It is important for me to help combat the increase in gun violence across our country. To be able to help keep people safe – and have the best partner while doing it – is so rewarding,” explains Nate. The proof of their impact is in the incredible numbers.

Since starting their deployment in November 2020, Nate and Bane have identified over 2,000 firearms!

“Our days are busy and active. We’re constantly walking the mall against the flow of patron traffic. As shoppers pass us, Bane turns his head into the wake of the odor. If he detects an odor unique to firearms, he turns to follow them,” explains Nate. For all MSA Firearms Detection Canine Teams, imprintation and training rely on odors unique to firearms, such as metals, oils and cleaning solvents. A properly trained firearm detection dog will successfully sniff out these separate odors to offer a passive “sit” alert on a threat, even if the gun has never been loaded or fired.

German shepherd dog on a blanket with a toyAccording to Nate, Bane is a real softie in his downtime. “He loves people. I think that is one reason he likes going for walks when we’re not at the mall – just to say hi to the neighbors! They all love him too,” says Nate.




Learn more about MSA Explosive Detection Canines.

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