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Dogs Have Their Day at New Training Site

It may sound like a swank doggy daycare facility — there’s a private kitchen, deluxe accommodations and even a state-of-the-art veterinary facility — but Capitol Police Chief Terrance Gainer insists his department’s new canine facility is all business.

“There is no spa here,” Gainer joked Friday during a dedication ceremony for the department’s newly constructed K-9 Training Facility.

The 3,400-square-foot facility does feature 12 combination indoor-outdoor kennels separate kitchens for officers and canines, a small workout space for officers, a veterinary room for basic medical care, a classroom and offices. The 5-acre site is situated in D.C. Village, a complex consisting of various government agencies south of Anacostia. It is also home to 18 outdoor kennels, part of an older structure adjacent to the new building, and a large exercise and training yard.

“It’ll be so much nicer [for the officers] reporting for duty here or getting training here,” said House Sergeant-at-Arms Bill Livingood, who serves on the Capitol Police Board, along with Senate Sergeant-at-Arms Bill Pickle and Architect of the Capitol Alan Hantman.

Gesturing to a photograph of the K-9 unit’s original Poplar Point facilities, which comprised a trailer, shed and portable toilet, Gainer noted: “We’ve come a long way.”

The law enforcement agency established its canine unit in 1971, after an antigovernment organization set off a bomb in the Senate wing of the Capitol.

The 12-dog unit doubled in size following a 1983 bombing outside Room S-208 of the Capitol, destroying the Republican Cloakroom and damaging surrounding corridors.

“After the second bombing, we really started focusing on explosive detection,” Assistant Chief James Rohan explained.

The Capitol Police now owns 50 canines, the majority of which are trained to detect explosives. The department also houses four search-and-rescue animals trained to detect people trapped in rubble. There are also three “service” dogs, which assist in such police actions as apprehension of suspected criminals.

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