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Alabama TSA Officials Recognized for Contributions to Canine Detection

By Tara Lanier, 334-844-3698,

Auburn, Alabama —

Individuals from the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) Office of Inspection at Birmingham, Huntsville, and Muscle Shoals airports are recognized by the Auburn University Canine Detection Research Institute (CDRI) for their contributions to canine detection and aviation security.

Federal Security Director Lyndel Hardy, Assistant Federal Security Director Afif Kanafani, and Inspector Robert Bouchillon of the Birmingham International, Huntsville International, and Northwest Regional Airports are recipients of the War Eagle Spirit Award. 

The Auburn University College of Veterinary Medicine presented the awards following a graduation ceremony for detection dogs and handlers on July 6.  Pete R. Garcia, Division Director of Compliance Programs within the Office of Security Operations at TSA was the guest speaker.

“The War Eagle Spirit Award goes to three individuals who are as committed and dedicated as Auburn University to training passenger screening dogs for TSA,” said John Pearce, associate director of the Canine Detection Research Institute. “Over a year ago, I approached Ms. Hardy, Mr. Kanafani, and Mr. Bouchillon and requested their assistance.  They quickly offered us the critical support we needed.  It is imperative these dogs are trained to work in the airport environment and to screen passengers.

“Our graduates wouldn’t have the extent of knowledge and understanding of canine olfaction, training, and detection if it weren’t for the hard work and dedication of those in the canine detection industry, associated industries, and academia.  It is for these persons, the War Eagle Spirit Award was created,” Pearce said.

The presentation of the spirit award to Hardy, Kanafani, and Bouchillon of TSA’s Office of Inspection marks only the third time the honor has been given since its inception in 2010.

The Auburn University Canine Detection Training Center, part of the College of Veterinary Medicine, honored eight handler and dog teams graduating from the explosives detection/Vapor Wake canine team training program during the July 6 ceremony.  Through olfaction, or sense of smell, Auburn University Vapor Wake detection dogs detect and trace explosive odors to their source.

Over the 12-week course, handlers are paired with dogs bred and trained specifically for the program.  A team’s final evaluation is in an operational airport environment.

Auburn University’s Canine Detection Research Institute has over 20 years of research activities involving canine detection and the process of canine olfaction. The Auburn University program is the largest canine detection research program in the United States and its Canine Detection Training Center is one of the largest outside the federal government.

Contact: Tara Lanier, 334-844-3698,

Shown are: Canine Detection Research Institute Associate Director John Pearce, Auburn University College of Veterinary Medicine Acting Dean Calvin Johnson, TSA Division Director of Compliance Programs Pete Garcia, Transportation Security Inspector Robert

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