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Jun 09, 2014 03:22 PM EDT

Ohio Gives Bomb-Sniffing Dogs To Three State Universities


Ohio is giving three universities bomb-sniffing dogs this week as part of Gov. John Kasich's effort to expand security capabilities, the Associated Press reported.

As part of a pilot program to strengthen school safety, The Ohio Department of Public Safety is giving dogs trained to detect explosives to Youngstown State University, Ohio State University and Bowling Green State University.

The three state schools were chosen with considerations for the need for the dogs and geographic diversity.

"This way, there's a cadre of explosive dogs available for the state of Ohio for the purpose of protecting the citizens of Ohio in a very organized, efficient way, that has a reduced time for response," police Chief John Peach at Kent State University, one of the schools that already have bomb-sniffing canines, told the AP.

Kent State University has one bomb dog and hopes to get a second one.

John Born, director of Ohio Department of Public Safety, told the AP the dogs could be assets for security sweeps in large-scale events, such as athletic games, visits by dignitaries or concerts.

The state's goal is to develop "a core group of canines and handlers spread throughout the state that will train together," the AP reported. This collaboration is meant to build a support network among them.

"[There is] just not enough explosives dogs in the state for the need depending on where you are, so this is hopefully the beginning of a more comprehensive effort," Born said.

Born said it costs more than $12,700 to purchase each animal in the program and pay for its initial training and equipment. The Ohio Homeland Security is covering those costs with existing federal grant money" that was either unobligated or repurposed," the AP reported.

Police agencies at the universities had to pay the officers who have been training for weeks as the dogs' full-time handlers.

Universities participating in the program will also have to agree that the dogs will be available for mutual aid in their regions if there is an off-campus need, such as a threat at a high school.

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