Commuters passing through Toronto’s Union Station will soon see more of a canine security presence as Metrolinx adds dogs to its ranks in an effort to boost security and reduce delays.
The new canine unit, made up of three dogs and their special constable handlers, will carry out security sweeps for any threats such as suspicious packages.
Bill Grodzinski, the agency’s transit safety director, told Global News the detection dogs add to an array of existing security tools.
“It takes it to the next level because you can’t miss the dog,” Grodzinski said.
Toronto police have had detection dogs at Union Station since 2013, according to Metrolinx, but the agency said having its own canine team available 24 hours a day means much faster response times. Officials said it will potentially save commuters hours in delays.
Although the unit is based out of Union Station, team members can be dispatched anywhere within the GO Transit system.
“The delays all just add up with traffic issues everywhere, and we don’t need any more people with sirens on coming through the city,” said Tiiu Roosimagi, who commutes through Union Station.
A fellow commuter, Alex Roberge-Milanese, also supports the plan.
“I’m always a fan of not having delays,” Roberge-Milanese said.
“I take the train every day, so it’s important that I get to school on time, or get home on time.”
The dogs and their handlers are undergoing 12 weeks of intensive training with Toronto police. The program includes learning the distinct odours of dangerous materials and sniffing out those items.
Metrolinx, however, warned anyone who sees the canine officers on duty to resist the urge to pet them.
“We want the customers to be delighted by the dogs — and so far I think I’m seeing that — and at the same time recognize dogs are here to keep the customers safe and if they’re playing with the customers, they’re not doing their job,” Grodzinski said.
The dogs are set to report for duty in September.