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Queens Chronicle

JFK drug dogs win big at competition

Animals land numerous medals at the World Police and Fire Games

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Posted: Wednesday, November 23, 2011 12:00 pm | Updated: 1:12 pm, Thu Dec 1, 2011.

Two U.S. Customs and Border Protection dogs who work to sniff out drugs at JFK International Airport just landed some big time medals in the recent World Police and Fire Games — but they’re not in it for the glory.

Tery, a 4-year-old Belgian Malinois, and Tobi, a 3-year-old German shepherd, who work as narcotics detector canines, are just happy with a rolled up towel, a bone and a gentle pat on the head for doing what they were trained to do — finding illegal drugs.

Tery and Tobi are among the more than 20 Customs and Border Protection’s detector dogs at JFK that rely on their superior sense of smell to detect narcotics hidden in baggage, luggage, mail bags, cargo and aircraft cabins.

At the airport, Tery and Tobi have successfully located heroin, cocaine, marijuana, hashish, methamphetamine and ecstasy secreted in baggage, cargo, mail, aircraft, vehicles and buildings.

Recently, these dogs successfully competed in the World Police and Fire Games held in the NYPD training facility at Fort Totten in Bayside, winning gold, silver and bronze medals in the events.

CBP Officer Susan Terri Giannetti and Tery took the gold medal in the luggage event, the bronze medal in the vehicle event and were awarded the overall gold medal for the Narcotics Detection Competition based on the total combination of points earned in all three phases.

“I was not concentrating on winning medals,” Giannetti said. “I just stayed focused on executing the searches correctly as if we were on the job,” said Giannetti.

Last Saturday, Tery was the recipient of the American Kennel Club’s Empire State Award of Canine Excellence and received her honor as the first ever ACE award winner.

Since she has been with the CBP, Tery has located nearly eight pounds of heroin in a cargo shipment from Ecuador that was concealed in the outer walls of a large water cooler and, after a search of the cargo hold area of a recent flight from the Dominican Republic, she alerted her handler to a duffle bag that contained 12 bricks of heroin weighing 29.10 pounds and eight bricks of cocaine weighing 19.51 pounds.

Giannetti joined the CBP in 2005 and became partners with Tery in 2008 after certifying in a 12-week narcotics detection program at the Canine Enforcement Training Center in Front Royal, Virginia.

CBP Officer James Walsh and Tobi were awarded the silver medal in building interior and took the bronze medal in the luggage event.

Walsh said that Tobi has also been trained to search people for narcotics.

Among Tobi’s narcotics finds were 70 pounds of heroin hidden in artifacts arriving on a flight from Africa, 25 pounds of cocaine hidden in a Tote bag on a flight from Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic and five pounds of heroin concealed in a freight container on a flight arriving at JFK from India.

Walsh has been with the U.S. Customs Service since 1991 and laterjoined the CBP.

The World Police and Fire Games competition was comprised of three individual events — building search, vehicle search and luggage search. The team’s overall performance was determined by the total number of training aides with planted narcotics located during each search, the dog’s response to the handler, search techniques and the handler’s ability to interpret the dog’s alert. The building interior search consisted of two floors with two to three rooms on each floor. Next, four vehicles were searched and the competition concluded with the search of approximately 10 pieces of luggage.

A total of 15 teams from Belgium, Canada and across the U.S. competed in the Narcotics Detection Dog competition.

“Our goal was to represent CBP, and the CBP Canine Program in the finest traditions of federal law enforcement,” said Gary Walck, chief of the JFK canine team. “We are proud of our outstanding canine teams and all of their significant contributions in supporting the overall CBP mission.”

The first World Police and Fire Games were held in 1985 in San Jose, Calif. with nearly 5,000 competitors.

This year 15,000 athletes from 70 countries competed in more then 65 events. The games are held every two years.

This year marked the 14th competition, and it is open to all active and retired law enforcement officers and firefighters from around the world.

The World Police and Fire Games are currently the second largest multi-sport event in the world, surpassed only by the summer Olympics.

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