Given the lengthy lines at airports and the likelihood of being groped, X-rayed, and otherwise harassed, the TSA hasn’t garnered much popularity over the years of its existence — but the oft-maligned agency does have one program with heart you might love. Since 2015, the Transportation Security Administration encourages people to adopt its dogs — both those who made the cut and have served a full ten years as well as those who didn’t meet standards set by the agency.
Though dogs not being qualified to act as TSA agents could seem suggestive they’re in some way flawed, that simply isn’t the case — canines not making the cut probably weren’t keen bomb sniffers or did not have other highly-specific skills necessary to perform tasks of the job.
“Dogs that fail training for government work typically have some explosives detection training,” the TSA explains. “The dogs are highly active and in most cases, will require a lot of attention, additional training and significant exercise. They are crate-trained, but not house-trained. Most dogs have not been exposed to small children or animals other than dogs.”
A wide variety of breeds are used by the agency, but Distractify notes the TSA prefers German Shorthaired Pointers, Labrador Retrievers, German Shepherds, and Belgian Malinois — all would make excellent companions for active people. However, the agency emphasizes, the latter two more often are re-trained and used by law enforcement departments, and won’t be adoption choices for the public.
Whether or not the pooches served and reached retirement or simply didn’t make the cut, all were chosen because they displayed a high level of ‘drive’ — each is fit and ready to exercise, even if primarily in an appropriately-sized yard.
Notes the TSA:
“Dogs available for adoption are ones that do not meet the TSA Canine Training Center criteria for government work. These dogs are highly active and in most cases, untrained and not house broken, but with proper training and care, they can be a great addition to families. On occasion, there are dogs that have been retired from government service.”
— mySA (@mySA) December 22, 2016
“Adoption is free, but you have to be able to travel to San Antonio, Texas, to pick them up and there’s a pretty stringent application process,” reports Distractify. “Obviously their caretakers have invested a lot of time and love in these adorable failures, and they want to make sure they end up with people who appreciate the responsibility of caring for them.”
Considering how endeared to their animal companions people can be — and how endless travel frustrations stem from encounters with the TSA — the Internet did not hold back an ounce of snarkiness upon learning of the adoption program.
One Twitter user shared a link to information about the agency’s canine giveaway, stating:
“If they failed TSA training then you know they’re good with people.”
If they failed TSA training then you know they're good with people. https://t.co/DKaMn72QyS
— Kase West (@KasestWestest) June 2, 2017
A list of requirements for consideration to adopt a TSA ‘reject’ includes that applicants must already have a fenced yard, follow all local pet ordinances, agree to provide “medical care, exercise, training and companionship” for the dog, and must not be planning a move within six months of the adoption, among other factors.
According to the Transportation Security Administration website, most of the canines seeking good homes are between the ages of two and four years — with only a smattering of retired dogs available at any time.
Service agencies and law enforcement have priority standing, but the average wait time for the general public to adopt these sporting canines stands between three months and one year — and anyone not requesting a specific breed will, all conditions met, take home a new best friend sooner.
If you aren’t in the San Antonio area, be prepared — check all program guidelines, and please note — none of the dogs are available for adoption on a same-day basis.