Nation's Trains and Buses to Get More Bomb-Sniffing Dogs

CHICAGO -- More bomb-sniffing dogs will begin patrolling Chicago Transit Authority buses and trains under a nationwide security strategy initiated after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

Teams of the highly trained dogs will be deployed in Chicago and at nine other transit systems around the country, U.S. Transportation Security Administration officials announced Tuesday.

Chicago police already assigned to transit units will attend a 10-week course in Texas next month to learn how to handle the explosives-detection dogs, officials said.

The plan to assign more dogs to bomb-detection duty is not a response to specific terrorist threats or to the deadly transit bombings in London in July, officials said.

Congress ordered steps to improve security in the U.S. transportation sector after the 2001 attacks, and officials say deploying more dogs is part of a still-evolving strategy to meet congressional goals.

"This is the first phase of a larger effort to expand our national explosive-detection canine team program to cover mass transit and commuter rail systems in the U.S.," said Lara Uselding, a spokeswoman for the security agency.

The Chicago Police Department's mass transit unit does currently have some bomb-sniffing dogs, but the CTA said it was pleased by measures to deploy even more.

"We welcome the additional resources," said CTA spokeswoman Noelle Gaffney.

(c) 2005 Associated Press