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Messi the dog is retiring from the TSA after work screening travelers

The 8-year-old Labrador Retriever worked at Reagan National Airport, and was the TSA's canine calendar dog of the month in February.
Messi the dog is retiring from the TSA after work screening travelers
Posted at 10:14 PM, Apr 19, 2024
and last updated 2024-04-19 22:14:11-04

Meet Messi. His handlers say "he was clearly born to work for the TSA," and said when he wasn't screening passengers he enjoyed watching airplanes and playing in the grass at the popular Gravelly Point field, near D.C.'s Reagan National Airport. 

This good boy is now retiring from service with the Transportation Security Administration as one of hundreds of the canines that train each year to work as passenger screening agents at U.S. airports.

Messi and dogs like him spend about 16 weeks learning how to adapt to the hustle and bustle of busy airports, and to meet their handlers, with whom they'll form deep work bonds.  

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The TSA says there are more than 1,000 canine handler teams that deploy to support screening and security operations around the country. Some of them, like Messi, are trained as explosion detection dogs at Joint Base San Antonio - Lackland in San Antonio, Texas. 

After a busy day Messi would enjoy playing with a tennis ball. 

Now he will enjoy a life of fun and rest, and can play with his toys at any time, and not just after a day of sniffing around for traces of explosive materials, the TSA said. 

As part of his retirement party, Messi had his "Do Not Pet" patch removed from his harness, officially marking the end of his professional career. He also received a pet-friendly cup cake to celebrate. 

The TSA said his handler Peter chose to adopt him in his retirement so they don't have to be separated after the bond they've formed. 


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