HONLULU - The Transportation Security Administration’s (TSA) “cutest canine” contest is in its final stages and the public is invited to raise a paw for their favorite canine.
The two finalists this year are from the western United States: one is an Aloha state ambassador and the other is a Cali boy.
Kajla (pictured at right) is a five-year-old Vizsla who works with her handler at Daniel K. Inouye International Airport (HNL) in Honolulu. Kajla enjoys long walks on Waikiki beach, coconut water and paying her respects at Pearl Harbor National Memorial.
Ron (pictured at left) is a two-year-old chocolate lab who works with his handler at Oakland International Airport (OAK). Ron loves hikes in Redwood Regional Park and stops to smell the roses at Morcom Rose Garden
Kajla and Ron, both of whom are explosive detection canines, were top vote getters over the past two day in the quarterfinals of the cutest canine contest.
Voting is currently underway and will continue until 9 a.m. PDT on Saturday, August 22. All voting is being conducted via the TSA Instagram or Twitter accounts. TSA will announce the winner on Wednesday, August 26, which is National Dog Day.
Here is a little more about the two finalists for TSA’s cutest canine:
Kajla’s personality is perfect for a working canine. She is spirited, fun-loving and a powerhouse pup that is constantly on the move. She is very social and continues to make passengers smile with her vigorous tail wags. Over the years, Kajla and her handler have enjoyed using their skills to support multiple special assignments in Hawaii.
Ron lives to work and enjoys supporting TSA’s security mission. When he is with his handler in the security checkpoint, he may stop briefly to glance at a cute toddler traveler or eyeball a tasty bread crumb, but he stays focused on his explosive detection role. In his spare time, he enjoys running obstacles at the dog park, inventing new ways of fetching his favorite toys and closing out his days by chillaxing in his backyard pool.
Nationwide, travelers will see TSA’s canine teams at airports working in the security checkpoints, assisting with the efficiency and effectiveness of TSA’s screening operations. Because explosives are known to be the greatest threat to the aviation system, these highly-trained canines are effective in the detection of explosive materials and deterrence from the introduction of explosive materials into the transportation system.
Ron and Kajla enjoy working in the airport environment, remembering to maintain six feet of social distance between themselves and travelers. They also understand the need to “Stay Healthy. Stay Secure.”
TSA currently has more than 1,000 explosives detection canine teams deployed nationwide. They are tasked with screening passengers, cargo, mass-transit and maritime systems, and they support other security missions. Each dog is specially trained to detect the scent of explosive materials. They are paired with TSA handlers and use their keen sense of smell when working in and around travelers and their belongings in busy transportation environments, including airports. Learn more about TSA’s explosives detection canine training program.
While TSA canines are sociable, they are working dogs and they should not be petted or fed by anyone except their handlers.