TSA names ‘cutest dog’ among dozens of working dogs

Alona is a bomb-sniffing dog at McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas. (TSA photo)

A very good golden retriever named Alona who helps provide security at McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas is the Transportation Security Administration’s “cutest dog” of the year, according to voters on social media.

Alona, ​​whose full name is Nirvana-Alona, ​​was voted the cutest canine after a three-day nationwide social media contest held on Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook, according to the TSA.

Her first name, Nirvana, was given at birth by her breeder, and Alona honored one of the victims of the 9/11 attacks.

“Alona Abraham was an Israeli visiting family in the United States and a passenger on Flight 175 from Boston to Los Angeles that fateful morning,” the TSA said. “The spirit of Nirvana-Alona embodies the joy Mrs. Abraham brought to those around her.”

Alona is an explosives detection dog – aka bomb sniffing dog – at McCarran Airport. Born in Colombia, she can understand commands in English and Spanish. Her favorite toy is a rubber ball that brought her from Colombia and she loves to play ball when she’s not on duty, the TSA said.

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In honor of National Dog Day, the TSA held the “Cutest Dog” contest to recognize some of the agency’s hardest-working four-legged officers. The competition featured 77 working dogs.

“The dogs were nominated by TSA airport dog handlers nationwide and voted on by dog ​​lovers nationwide,” the TSA said. “These highly trained dogs are paired with handlers who utilize the working dog’s keen sense of smell when working in busy transport environments.”

The TSA has trained more than 1,000 canine teams that work at airports and transit facilities across the United States.

“Although TSA canine partners are sociable, they are working dogs and should only be touched and fed by their handlers,” the agency said.

Bette C. Alvarado