Specially trained K-9s are sniffing out danger at RodeoHouston this year. They can detect explosive odors as a person walks by.
“There’s been a few things happening with big events lately and security is probably the biggest issue the rodeo should focus on,” said visitor Wynn Williams.
Rodeo officials added a number of enhancements this year to keep visitors safe.
“We have enhanced fencing around the carnival area, additional lighting, additional horseback patrols,” said Rodeo Houston CEO Joel Cowley. “We have additional foot patrols.”
“Bello” is a four-legged addition.
“We call them mobile odor-detection dogs,” said Sgt. William Thomas with the HCSO Explosives Squad.
Bello and three other K-9s with the Harris County Sheriff’s Office are trained to track suicide bombers or anyone carrying an explosive device through a crowd.
“Basically, we’re trying to trail that odor or get him to pick it up by maybe walking across where the guy has already walked,” said Thomas. “And following it to the source.”
Bello and the other dogs will sit if they detect something.
This is the first RodeoHouston during which odor-detection dogs have been fully on duty since the sheriff’s office got them a little over a year ago.
“It’s a good deterrent for the rodeo,” said Thomas.
It’s another layer of security that visitors have come to expect during Houston’s largest annual event.
“I think that’s really good and it makes me feel safe and better here,” said visitor Bojana Popovich.
The four mobile odor-detecting dogs are among more than 650 officers working the rodeo this year from a number of departments.
There are usually about 230 working NRG Park during any given shift.