Firm eyes Jamesport for bomb-sniffing dogs

09/23/2010 12:00 AM |

A farm in Jamesport is being considered as a site to train bomb-sniffing dogs.

A company called Michael Stapleton Associates is in contract to buy a six-acre farm at the end of Aliperti Court in Jamesport to train dogs, according to John Harvey, the director of MSA’s Specialized Training Academy, who described the proposal to the Riverhead Town Board Thursday.

The proposal requires a special permit from the board.

The company plans only to renovate the interior of an existing barn on the site, Mr. Harvey said. Town officials said they saw no major impacts associated with the proposal.

“I have no problem with it,” said Councilman Jim Wooten.

Explaining the training operation, Mr. Harvey told the board there would be eight dogs on site at any one time. “The dogs would be trained for the purpose of explosives detection and they would be matched up with a handler,” he said, “which would necessitate the handler spending about a week with us.” All of the dogs are Labrador retrievers, he said.

Michael Stapleton Associates is the largest provider of bomb dogs in the United States and has over 100 bomb dog teams nationwide, according to its website. They are certified by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, according to Mr. Harvey.

“At about eight weeks old,” the dogs “are taken from their mother, and they go to five or six prisons in the metropolitan area, where they are raised by inmates there before coming to us,” Mr. Harvey said. “They are very socialized, and they live with the families of the handlers, so there are no issues with barking.”

Once the dogs are trained, they are deployed to the various clients of MSA, including the New York City Police Department, the Internal Revenue Service and the National Parks Service, according to Mr. Harvey. A public hearing on the special permit application will be held at the Oct. 19 Town Board meeting, which starts at 7 p.m. in Town Hall.

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