For the last five years, MSA Security® Explosive Detection Canine Handler Caitlin Burkhardt and her yellow Labrador partner, Glen, have managed an extremely active deployment schedule at one of the region’s busiest transit hubs in New York City. We caught up with the team a week ahead of Glen’s anticipated retirement – and, while there were no signs of slowdown from the eight-year-old bomb dog, it did provide a perfect opportunity to reflect on this team’s good work together through the years.
Caitlin joined MSA in 2019 and says Glen made an instant impression. “I knew right away that he was special, with superior olfactory skills, an even temperament and high-level of socialization. Our bond was immediate and grew even stronger in time,” explains Caitlin. Like all MSA canines, Glen was imprinted on all five families of commercial explosives, as well as homemade explosives, and trained to identify these odors with a passive “sit” response. After receiving operational training specific to their intended deployment, Caitlin and Glen joined MSA’s growing fleet of more than 900 explosive and firearms detection canine teams deployed globally.
Their daily assignments are extensive within the 5-story facility that sees countless travelers daily. Duties include sweeping incoming vehicle deliveries for explosives, clearing unattended bags, and engaging with local law enforcement and various government agencies to support specific high-consequence security detail. A properly imprinted and trained canine is the most effective, safe and operationally efficient tool when it comes to screening for explosives. Even the most sophisticated technology cannot screen large volumes of mail, cargo or areas with the same speed and accuracy.
Caitlin credits Glen, his nose and seemingly boundless enthusiasm for getting the job done quickly. “I am pretty sure Glen doesn’t consider this work,” she says with a smile. “He loves having his nose on odor and his eagerness keeps me energized as well. I’m fortunate to have worked with such a dedicated partner.”
Caitlin has served in the military for 12 years. She is currently in the Air National Guard and trains on weekends as part of a well-equipped unit available for prompt mobilization during war and assistance during national emergencies. Prior, she served actively in the U.S. Air Force as a medic responsible for providing emergency medical care in the event of a ground or air incident and treating illness and injury. “I joined the military after 9/11 because I wanted to do my part to ensure that nothing like that ever happened again,” she says. “I was fortunate to work alongside the best of the best, train and serve all over the world, and gain valuable skills that I rely on in my current role with MSA.”
That role as a canine handler is about to change. When Glen retires, Caitlin will assume a new managerial position to help oversee MSA Canine Detection Teams, as well as manage program scheduling and deployment operations throughout the region. It will undoubtedly be an adjustment, but she is ready and excited to embrace the challenge. As for Glen, the beach is calling! “We are lucky that our house is on the beach, so when we’re not working, Glen loves running the coastline, digging for crabs and splashing around in the ocean,” says Caitlin. Something tells us there will be a lot more of that in store for Glen in his retirement. Join us in giving Glen a big round of “a-paws” for his hard work, dedication and service!