Christine Spigai

Stephanie Palad was born in the Philippines. When she was two years old, her family earnedPhoto woman kneeling on concrete with black Labrador an opportunity to make their way to America thanks to her grandmother who operated as a U.S. spy carrying out covert missions inside the country. The family of eight settled into a small studio apartment in Brooklyn – the very same region that Stephanie works today as an MSA Security® canine handler. It is a job she absolutely loves – but not one that was always in her mind’s eye.

As a teenager, perhaps inspired by the stories of her grandmother’s missions, Stephanie dreamt about becoming an undercover agent for the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation. To accomplish that goal, she knew a college education was essential. A U.S. Army recruiter told her about the benefits of serving, including free college education. She was sold and enlisted in the Military Police (31b) in the Army Reserve at just 20 years old. “A college education was very important to me and while I initially joined for a free education, there was so much more to my military experience,” she explains. “In my four and a half years, I proudly served my country alongside great people and learned important lessons in discipline and leadership. These are essential skills that I use today in my work.”

photo of black LabradorAll MSA canine handlers carry military or law enforcement backgrounds and are paired to a single canine as their partner. For Stephanie, that is three-year-old black Labrador Tribute. The duo has been together since February and received world-class training at one of MSA’s many regional ATF-licensed training sites throughout the country. Following training in explosives detection, Stephanie and Tribute received comprehensive firearms imprintation and training in Pennsylvania with MSA partner, Shallow Creek Kennels. “I knew instantly we’d be a perfect match,” Stephanie says of her partner. “It was easy to see Tribute’s strong work ethic and eagerness to please right from the start. He loves earning her food reward, so he is always ready to seek on my word.”

selfie of a woman smiling near a black LabradorThe team is currently deployed for firearms detection at a high-profile office and residential Manhattan skyscraper. “Our deployment requires a great deal of footwork. It is an enormous building and there is a lot of ground to cover each day both inside and outside. I am fortunate because Tribute has high energy and great stamina. We both love what we do and that doesn’t make it feel like work.” Stephanie and Tribute have also managed deployments at several financial institutions, and entertainment and sporting venues throughout the New York City area.

While Stephanie says that Tribute is “all business” on the job, she also reports that he loves to letphoto of a black Labrador on the floor playing with a toddler. loose at home and is always up for family time with their other dog, Nala, and Stephanie’s two-year-old daughter. “For as intense as he is at work, Tribute is a real softie at home and can’t resist when my daughter charms him into being her playdate,” she says with a smile.

Stephanie is excited to graduate later this year with a Bachelor of Science in pre-law and is proud to be the first in her family to receive a college degree. She also is very grateful to have landed at MSA doing a job she loves and has her eyes set on a bright future as she continues to grow within the company.

Learn more about MSA’s Canine Detection Program and why it leads the industry in mitigating today’s high-consequence threats. To meet more of MSA’s canines and handlers and for timely content from MSA’s subject matter experts, be sure to subscribe to our blog.

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