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All paws on deck! K-9s help sniff out safety threats at Super Bowl

The Valley is getting the help of man's best friend to beef up security at the Big Game.

ARIZONA, USA — With thousands of visitors expected to flood into the Phoenix metro area for the Super Bowl, law enforcement is deploying several K-9s to help keep people safe.

While they couldn't be specific, Phoenix police tell 12News that at least five times more highly trained K-9s will be in the area sniffing out safety threats during the Super Bowl and all the events surrounding it than normal. 

The pooches come from different parts of the country. Some are trained in sniffing out explosives, while others specialize in people screening. 

12News has learned the K-9s are trained at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, TX. The dogs train anywhere from 17 to 24 weeks before they are sent out to work at transportation hubs, large events, or work with law enforcement.

“I've been doing this for 24 years; I have not seen any other mechanism or anything out there that can be the nose of a dog”," Steven Lopez, the deputy director for the TSA’s canine training center at LAFB, said.

Lopez calls the K-9s "highly trained athletes" because the animals are given strict diets. He said veterinarians constantly check on them and monitor their weights. He said this is necessary to make sure the dogs are at the top of their game because public safety is at risk.

Nicholas Graham, a canine training instructor at LAFB, said the dogs began arriving in early February to “get the dogs in the different venues and get the handlers kind of accustomed to what to expect on game day.” 

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