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Specially-Trained Dogs Protect Fans in The District Detroit

Before sports and music fans flock to Comerica Park and Little Caesars Arena, specially-trained Labrador Retrievers and their handlers sweep the venues from top to bottom to help protect visitors to The District Detroit. 

Unlike traditional bomb detection dogs, they can detect explosives within large groups. They sniff to detect air particles in real time as people move around, eliminating the need to screen people one-by-one.

In spring 2016, Ilitch Charities and the Detroit Tigers Foundation donated funds to state and local law enforcement agencies, including the Detroit Police Department, to purchase three vapor wake dogs. Since then, even more dogs and their handlers have joined the team.

Richard Fenton, Vice President for Corporate Security at Ilitch Holdings and a retired law enforcement executive, said he wanted to bring the dogs to The District Detroit to advance security throughout the mixed-used development.

“They are highly reliable dogs,” said Fenton, who participated in a test of their capacities in 2015—the same year vapor wake technology became patented in the U.S.

Scientists choose to train Labrador Retrievers because they are friendly dogs with a good temperament and endurance. Puppies undergo rigorous training from an early age.

In The District Detroit, 2-year-old golden lab, Cash, and his handler, Sheryl Armbruster, represent one of the six vapor wake teams working hard to protect fans every day. When Cash is not scoping out various areas of the venues, he’s training to sharpen his skills.

“You can’t beat a dog’s nose. It’s so efficient and quick,” said Armbruster, a military veteran. “If you’ve watched our dogs work, you can tell, they really enjoy it.”

The vapor wake dogs enrich the work the Ilitch organization has done to maintain the highest standard of security for fans and workers.

This includes the arduous task—led by Rick Fenton—of securing the Department of Homeland Security’s SAFETY Act Certification standard for Little Caesars Arena and Comerica Park.

Little Caesars Arena is the only facility of its kind to boast the certification, making the Detroit Pistons and Detroit Red Wings the only teams in their leagues that play at a SAFETY Act-certified venue. Comerica Park received the recognition in fall 2015, while Little Caesars Arena secured the distinction in November 2017.

About The District Detroit

The District Detroit is a dynamic urban destination in the heart of Detroit. One that includes something for everyone—a dense neighborhood experience with a variety of developments alongside Detroit’s premier sports and entertainment venues. Connecting downtown Detroit to growing nearby neighborhoods such as Midtown, Corktown and Brush Park, The District Detroit is having a dramatic economic impact on Detroit and is a driving catalyst of the city’s remarkable resurgence. The District Detroit will deliver $1.4 billion in new investment to Detroit including the new Little Caesars Arena, Mike Ilitch School of Business at Wayne State University and Little Caesars world headquarters campus expansion. Additionally, new office, residential and retail spaces will continue to add momentum to Detroit’s amazing comeback for years to come.