ATF K-9’s Protect Spokane NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament


Two highly-trained K-9 dogs from the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) helped keep fans and players safe this past weekend at Spokane Veterans Memorial Arena during this year’s NCAA basketball tournament.

Virgil, and his Seattle-based partner, ATF Special Agent Kent Plemons, along with Pepper (also known as Little Wiggle Butt), and her partner Deputy J.P Melton of the Spokane County Sheriff’s Department, closely watched for anything that could be used to disrupt the games.

Virgil and Pepper are both well heeled graduates of ATF’s Explosives Detection Canine School and have been specially trained to detect a variety of explosive compounds and materials that could be used in an explosive device. The dogs’ ability at detection is so keen that they can smell more than 19,000 different chemical compounds. ATF’s explosives K-9 program, which began in 1986, uses only Labrador retrievers supplied by the Guiding Eyes for the Blind, the Guide Foundation and Canine Companions for Independence. In addition to daily training, these specialty canines and their handlers had to first pass muster through an intensive 10-week program at the ATF Canine Training Center in Front Royal, Va.

“The K-9 teams supporting the NCAA tournament are among the very best,” said Kelvin Crenshaw, Special Agent in Charge of the ATF Seattle Field Division. “As players and fans enjoy the games and excitement of March Madness in Spokane, our ATF K-9’s and their handlers will be working hard behind the scenes, side-by-side with fellow law enforcement and security components, to keep everyone safe and secure through this event.”

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