Meet Jet, the only four-legged member of the Auraria Campus Police Department’s K-9 unit. He works alongside Officer Corey Averill, who first trained with working dogs in Baumholder, Germany when he was in the Army.
Jet specializes in explosives detection, sniffing out possible bombs or other detonatable devices. Most of the time, he’s inspecting unattended bags left behind by absentminded students and professors. But his nose could potentially identify many dangerous substances imperceptible to humans. In fact, dogs have about 300 million olfactory receptors (while humans have around six million).
This could explain Jet’s problem with squirrels. And rabbits. And sometimes other dogs who deign to show up on campus. Currently, Officer Averill is “trying to work Jet through animal distractions,” which is a nice way to say they’ve got to reduce Jet’s prey instinct.
Officially (as per his business card), Jet is identified as a Labrador retriever mix, but his handler and his appearance both point to some houndly provenance—Rhodesian ridgeback or Vizsla perhaps. Which could also explain his squirrel problem. Most dogs in the hound group were bred to hunt—and many of those were designed specifically to pick up a scent.
These acute olfactory powers do a whole world of good. Jet and his nose have passed not one, but three bomb dog certifications: National Police Canine Association, Colorado Police Canine Association, and The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF). Given that the Auraria Campus has a daily population of approximately 60,000 people, Jet’s skills increase everyone’s safety.
Officer Averill proudly notes that Jet’s other important purpose is public relations: “It brings the community together—everyone wants to come up and say hi.” If you see him on campus, please ask if you can pet him. And don’t get offended if he ignores you. “He’s so focused on his task, he doesn’t even acknowledge people sometimes,” Averill said.
Jet is allowed to take breaks and have some fun. He loves his toys, especially tennis balls. Jet can get overly excited during play, which explains how he once broke a favorite toy. The story has a happy ending, however, thanks to the costume department in the King Center—which fixed Jet’s ball-on-a-rope. “Little stuff like that is just super nice,” Averill said. “There’s a department for everything on campus.”