As the Transportation Security Adminstration and local police continue to monitor terror threats on so-called "soft targets," demand for bomb-sniffing dogs is at an all-time high.
Those who procure the bomb-specific breeds such as Belgian Malinois and German Shepherds from Europe say they're becoming harder to find and three times more expensive.
“We're not the only country trying to buy dogs,” says Bill Heiser at AMK9. “It used to be that you could go over there and buy as many as you wanted, now it's feast or famine.”
“The quality has gone down now, so instead of getting 100 dogs, now you're getting 30 dogs,” he says. “So we're making more frequent trips over there than we used to because the dogs are so young and we need to get them at an age where they're mature enough to be able to train them.”
Even then, not every dog makes the cut.
“One in 40 dogs makes the program,” says Heiser. “Not only the hunt drive we're looking for, but the health. So they have to have good hips, good elbows and good spine.”
Heiser says demand has driven up costs by three times for one puppy. Total training included and dogs can fetch upwards of $25,000 each.
The TSA insists it "has programs and structures in place to ensure an adequate supply of canines today and in the future.”