First gun-sniffing dog on the clock at Mall of America

First gun-sniffing dog on the clock at Mall of America

First gun-sniffing dog on the clock at Mall of America

A new tool to keep guns out of Mall of America is already working, according to mall officials. 

After several high-profile shootings in the past two years, the mall has added its first gun-sniffing dog. For about 20 years, MOA has used K9s to sniff out explosives, but now they’re training all eight of their dogs to detect firearms, a fairly new concept in the canine world. 

Kenny McDonough, the mall’s Canine Lt., says the dogs undergo an extensive eight-week training in-house. They learn to smell every component of a firearm to detect who may have a gun on them. 

“None of our dogs do any kind of barking, any kind of bite work,” said McDonough. “They’re trained to pinpoint down to the actual person where that odor is coming from.”

McDonough demonstrated how K9 Ellie detects firearms. He says Ellie will make a 90-degree turn and pull. 

The mall’s head of security, Will Bernhjelm, says in past years, they’ve focused on explosive detection shortly after 9/11. As that threat evolved, they began exploring different options. 

“They’re used to searching static objects like garbage cans or suitcases or backpacks, and now they’re searching moving objects,” said Bernhjelm. 

Mall officials believe this new security measure will make a difference, noting that as of now, there haven’t been any false detections.

“It’s also a deterrent for people that may want to come here with a firearm knowing that we have this capability, maybe they’re not going to come here now. And maybe they’re not going to bring the firearm,” said Bernhjelm. 

Mall officials say most of their finds have been conceal and carry people who weren’t aware that the mall is private property and doesn’t allow firearms.