CIA K-9 Corps: A Special Breed
The CIA has a diverse work force – from engineers and linguists to doctors and analysts. But we have a special breed of employees at the CIA, too. It’s our CIA K-9 Corps.
The CIA established the K-9 Corps in 1991. Since then, the number of K-9s and their human partners has increased, and the Corps has plans for more growth. (Take a look at our growing K-9 Corps.)
The Corps’ main responsibility is to protect the CIA and its employees. All of the canines are federal police officers and are assigned their own police badge. What makes the K-9 Corps so special is the dogs’ ability to sniff out 19,000 explosive scents, which makes them ideal explosive detection officers.
The CIA K-9s learn all of these scents in a 10-week training program. At the end of the training, the dogs and their human partners take 10 indoor and outdoor tests. Some of the canines receive street training, which sharpens the dogs’ skills in obedience, agility, article search, suspect search, and criminal apprehension. When that training ends, the dogs have to pass a final exam. The top dogs then report for duty as members of the CIA K-9 Corps.
To keep the dogs at the top of their game, the K-9s and their handlers also participate in competitions throughout the year. Each year, members of the Corps look forward to the regional and national competitions sponsored by The United States Police Canine Association (USPCA). When the dogs score enough points in the regional events, they go on to the national competitions. At the national level, teams compete against other teams from all over the United States and Canada.
Due to their extensive training and unique skills, the CIA K-9 Corps oftentimes works with other law enforcement teams. Our K-9s assist the US Park Police, the Fairfax County (Virginia) Police Department, and the Drug Enforcement Administration. The K-9s and their handlers also travel regularly to locations here and abroad.
With all their responsibilities, the CIA K-9s work about 60 hours a week. And when they’re away from “the office,” they’re always on call. The “top dogs” in the CIA K-9 Corps are just like all of the CIA’s best employees: enthusiastic, hard working, loyal, and dedicated. And their handlers will tell you that the dogs love their jobs.