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Crisis response dog in training takes on the TSA

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CASCADE TWP, Mich--It seems as though we can train dogs to do just about anything; sit, stay, fetch and shake.

But what happens when you train a dog to fly? It's something we don't hear about too often, training dogs to walk through security and travel on planes.

FOX 17 met up with Talco at the Gerald R. Ford International Airport Thursday. He's a crisis response canine in training, who is now a pro, walking through the TSA.



Tonya Christiansen, the owner of Must Love Dogs Boutique and Spa in Grand Haven, says Talco is her best friend. She rescued the 3-year-old Podenco Campanero from Spain last year with the help of Sighthound Underground, an organization that rescues dog breeds who hunt by sight.

"I’ll spare the graphic details, but these little things we would think every dog would deserve, they don't get over there. They’re ill-treated from the moment they’re born from the moment they die and sometimes that’s at the hands of the hunter."

Now, Christiansen is sharing Talco's loving personality with others, hoping to help those in time of need.

"I feel that my purpose on this planet is to help dogs and help people through dogs," Christiansen said.

That's why she teamed up with the National Assistance Crisis Response Organization 6 months ago. She's been working with them to help train Talco in becoming a crisis response canine.

"The presence of the dogs lowers the stress in the room; one by lowering the blood pressure, one by lowering the pulse, the breathing," said Char Nash, a team leader for the National Assistance Crisis Response Organization.

The dogs involved in the program help to calm others at a natural disasters and other tragedies in the U.S., whether that be a plane crash, mass shooting, or fire. But to travel, Talco needs to fly and just like everyone else, he needs to go through the TSA.

Thursdsay afternoon Christiansen and Talco practiced walking through security, being wanded, going through the X-ray machine and more.

Talco going through TSA

"We do this to see how the dog responds to that situation and see how the handler responds to the situation," Nash said.

It was a good day of practice and one of many more. All giving Talco his chance in becoming a therapy dog.

"I think he did really well," Christiansen said.

The National Assistance Crisis Response Organization is made up of all volunteers and is free of charge to whoever calls for their help.

(Left) Tonya Christiansen, (Right) Char Nash

"We will contact people and say we’re available if you need us to help," Nash said.

You can contact them here.

There are three other Crisis Response Canine teams in Michigan. Talco will be the 4th. We're told he will likely get his certification from National is about six months.

(Additional credit to Entertainment and Media Consultant Chris Petras.)

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