Holiday security is going to the (bomb-detecting) dogs

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Demand grows for private contractors with K-9 bomb sniffers.

With holiday festivities underway all across the Triangle, and massive New Year's Eve events planned, security is a top priority.

And there is a growing demand for a very specific kind of security, bomb-detecting dogs. Private companies are popping up to meet that demand.

On a cold, December day, "Gunner" and his handler Geoff Beckwith are running around the back steps of a theatre in downtown Raleigh. Gunner has picked up the scent of gun powder.

It's just a drill, but when Gunner gets to a backpack on the sidewalk, he freezes.

He found it. A bag of black powder.

Beckwith and Gunner are part of a growing industry, private contractors with dogs that can sniff out explosives. Think of all the events across the Triangle, such as road races and concerts;

"There's just no way that any law enforcement agency can cover all those venues," Beckwith said. "So we're just giving another option, another tool for those venues to protect the public safety."

Kyle Breischaft retired from law enforcement and started Stealth Vigilance, part of the trend of private K-9 detection firms.

He said law-enforcement K-9 units respond to a threat. Private companies are more proactive.

"We would generally go in ahead of time, do a sweep of the area, access what the high risk areas are and they could be there once we do the actual detection area," Breischaft said. "We would be there for a deterrent as well.

"We're not out to replace any level of security that are already there," he added. "It's really just to enhance existing security measures."

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