Christine Spigai

We’ve all heard the metaphor “smart as a whip” that has been used to describe mental sharpness and keen ability since the mid-nineteenth century. Well, meet MSA Security® Explosive Detection Canine Whip. Alongside her MSA Canine Handler Melissa Carrero, this 6-year-old black Labrador is really living up to her name every day.


photo of a woman and black lab standing in front of a buildingThe pair first met in August 2022 after Melissa landed what she calls her dream job as an Explosive Detection Canine Handler with MSA Security®, An Allied Universal® Company. Walking into initial training at the company’s state-of-the-art training facility in Windsor, CT, she proudly wore her MSA handler uniform and a huge smile, eager to meet her four-legged partner. As excited as she was to begin this new career chapter, she did not anticipate just how well she would click with Whip. “This girl has an incredible nose. She never misses on odor – whatever we put out for her in training, she finds it,” says Melissa. “I feel super fortunate that Whip is my partner because she is so efficient and skilled in her work.”


Melissa is equally impressed with Whip’s versatility. We caught up with the team in Philadelphia, PA, this month. They were working an explosive screening deployment at the loading dock of a sports stadium preparing for the upcoming season. The pair’s responsibilities included clearing trucks and incoming deliveries to mitigate the risk of explosives, keeping personnel and property safe. This was a change in site environment for the team whose primary deployment is at a prominent memorial in lower Manhattan. With countless visitors daily, Melissa and Whip are always in motion crisscrossing the nearly eight-acre site.

MSA Explosive Detection Canine single-handler teams are extremely effective in high-trafficphoto of a woman and black lab sitting environments, unobtrusively seeking explosive odors lingering in the air and tracking them back to the source even through the most crowded areas. “We sure put in our steps each day,” Melissa says with a smile. “Whip has incredible stamina which is essential for the ground we need to cover and the work we do each day.”


Melissa is also accustomed to hard work. She enlisted in the U.S. Army National Guard at just 21 years of age with a desire to find her purpose. “I wanted to make a difference and wrestled with which direction to pursue. One day, visiting my mom at my childhood home, I picked up a piece of mail addressed to me. It was from the Army. This was my sign,” she says. After passing the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery aptitude test on the first go, Melissa began her service as a military water treatment specialist. For four years, she was responsible for the installation and operation of water purification equipment, water storage and distribution, and inspecting supplies for disease orphoto of black labrador on gray couch and blanket health hazards.

For as laser-focused as the two are at work, Melissa admits they both like to chill in their personal downtime. “When we’re home, we both like to relax. Whip is so mellow and that’s perfect because I am too. We really are a perfect match!”

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