First School Safety Dog Graduates from Auburn, Goes to Work

School Resource Office Michael Leonard with Taylor

The police department in Coconut Creek, Florida, recently welcomed Taylor, a 17-month-old female black Labrador, to the force as its new School Safety Dog, complete with a pedigree from Auburn University.

Taylor, who will make her school rounds with School Resource Officer Michael Leonard, has been trained since birth to detect scents related to firearms. Her job is to sample the air around people and follow specific odors to their source.

Taylor is a graduate of Auburn’s Canine Performance Science Program, innovator of the Vapor Wake K9 technology that trains dogs for mass pedestrian screening.

“After the horrible events at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in February of 2018, I, like many others in law enforcement, started asking myself ‘What can I do to make a difference in our schools and try and prevent the next school shooting from happening,” says Officer Leonard.

Coconut Creek’s city commission opted to acquire a school safety dog, and Leonard spent seven weeks at the VWK9 training facility in Anniston, getting to know Taylor and accumulating the nearly 300 hours of training required to become certified. Both Officer Leonard and Taylor attained certification on Nov. 7.

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Taylor is trained to find weapons, weapon parts, ammunition, carbon, gun oils, cleaning solvents, fireworks, black powder, double based smokeless powder, and several other components related to firearms.

The pair will work with all of Coconut Creek’s schools on detection efforts. “A visiting or permanent canine promotes greater self-esteem, focused interaction with students and faculty, opens lines of communication amongst faculty and peers, and provokes an overall feeling of safety and wellness,” says Kristie Dober, the Executive Director of Business Development at VWK9.

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