Zander, UVA’s bomb-sniffing police dog, has been checking event venues for explosives, responding to bomb threats and sniffing out evidence in cases involving firearms since 2005. The German shepherd and his trainer, Canine Officer Jeff Keaton, performed area sweeps before the 2008 campaign visits to Grounds of Hillary Clinton and Michelle Obama, among others. Zander can detect a variety of odors from plastic explosives, dynamite and smokeless and black powders, as well as PETN, a difficult-to-detect explosive recently found in bombs shipped to Chicago from Yemen.
But now signs of arthritis in his hips are forcing Zander, who is 7 years old, into retirement. “I see how much he enjoys getting into the car and going to work,” says Keaton. “He is going to have a hard time watching another dog take over.”
Keaton is training with a Belgian Malinois named Muki, who will take over Zander’s position after Finals in May.
“Zander has quite a reputation in the area for his abilities,” says UVA Police Chief Mike Gibson. “He has set the bar pretty high for his replacement.”