Furry farewell: Mitchell International Airport's first TSA explosive detection dog retires

Furry farewell: Mitchell International Airport’s first TSA explosive detection dog retires

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) – The airport TSA has a very important job to keep all of us safe, and one of Milwaukee's friendliest and furriest agents was rewarded for his hard work Thursday.

Rex, a 6.5-year-old explosive detection K-9, is hanging up his vest.

"These dogs are so good at their jobs. Really, the handler is the one holding the leash. The dog does all the work," said TSA K-9 handler Regina Eisenberg.

Rex has been working and living with Eisenberg for five years.

"We have a pretty special bond. He's a great dog," she said. "We don't treat them as pets at home because they're working dogs, and they have to understand that you come to work, you work. You come home, you rest."

Now, Eisenberg is taking a new position as a K-9 supervisor at O'Hare Airport. That means Rex gets to retire and go home with her as a "regular" dog.

TSA agents at Mitchell International Airport held a special ceremony for his retirement.

"Normally when the dog alerts from a decoy, we give the dog his toy to play, that's how he gets paid," explained Tim Goodman, assistant federal security director at TSA Wisconsin. "In this case, we all gathered around and all gave him a toy to play, so he had about a hundred toys to play with."

It's a tradition for the agency to honor each pup's hard work.

"The dogs are our best layer of security. They can detect explosives better than any of our equipment can," Goodman said.

Rex is the first explosive detection K-9 to retire from Mitchell International Airport, where he and Eisenberg worked for two years.

They were the first team in Milwaukee. Now, the airport has three other explosive detection dogs and handlers.

"Hopefully I kind of put my stamp on it a little bit, and helped out a lot of the other handlers that came after me," Eisenberg said.

Because Rex is officially no longer a working dog, he can get pets from everyone.

"Our plan is to go throughout the day and go see some people, and so they can give him pets all day," Eisenberg said.

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