They're the latest crime fighting tool and they're trained right here in Alabama.
A group in Anniston works with Auburn University to train dogs to detect explosive vapors. It's a skill that trainers say could have possibly lead to the discovery of the bombs at the Boston Marathon.
These vapor wake detection dogs are trained at Auburn's K9 Detection Training Center in Anniston.
"If we train a dog to find that particular material...they can take us right to it," John Pearce with I-K9 said.
The group works with Auburn at the center. He says these dogs are considered the ultimate bomb sniffing dog because they detect the trail of the device's vapor.
"It's looking for a vapor wake that out's there off of a moving person. So we're not looking for a static placement," Pearce said.
FOX6 News went along with the trainers as they conducted a training exercise at Quintard Mall in Oxford. A person in the crowd had an explosive material on them and the dog walked around, sniffing at the people passing by. When he detected the vapor, he lead the handler to the subject, following right behind. When the subject stops, so does the dog.
"The dog will show us in a non-intrusive manner where the material is," Pearce said.
This special training starts at birth. Auburn breeds these dogs, which are primarily Labrador retrievers. Puppies as young as four weeks old go through development exercises. And at one year old, dogs are ready for formal training that Pearce says takes about eight weeks to complete.
He says there isn't another bomb detection training center like this one anywhere else in the U.S. The program has been a part of Auburn for six years.
Pearce says Amtrack Police and the New York City Police Department use dogs that they have trained. Since the Boston Marathon bombing, he says there has been more interest in the dogs.
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