The Hungarian army finds a mission in the life of an abused dog

BUDAPEST, Hungary (AP) — The Hungarian military found a new mission in the life of a talented dog rescued from abusive owners, recruiting 2-year-old Logan to serve on counterterrorism operations for an elite bomb squad.

The Belgian Shepherd is undergoing intensive training as an explosive detection dog for the Explosive Ordnance Disposal and Warship Regiment of the Hungarian Defense Forces.

At the unit’s garrison on the Danube River in the capital, Budapest, Logan receives daily socialization and obedience exercises, and is trained to recognize the scent of 25 different explosive substances.

“He’s already started learning how to sniff out explosives in a completely homogeneous environment, and he’s also started learning how to search motor vehicles and boats,” said Logan’s trainer, Sgt. Balazs Nemeth First Class.

Logan’s new role as a bomb sniffer came only after a rough early life. In 2021, animal welfare officers received a tip that a dog was being abused and held in subhuman conditions at a rural residence in northeastern Hungary. During an on-site inspection, officers found Logan confined to a 3-foot (1-meter) chain and suffering from malnutrition.

Several weeks later, Nemeth, the regimental training officer, visited the shelter where Logan was staying and began assessing his suitability to become a professional bomb sniffer.

“The moment we met him the first impressions were very positive. We saw a well-motivated dog in relatively good condition and we immediately trusted him,” said Nemeth.

In a demonstration at the unit’s garrison, Nemeth opened a case containing two dozen vials of simulated explosive materials such as C-4, TNT, ammonium nitrate, and others, which Logan is trained to detect.

After hiding a small package of explosives in a hidden crevice in one of the regiment’s riverboats, Nemeth took Logan to the training area where he immediately went to work sniffing out the package, which he found within seconds. The dog’s body tensed as he pointed his nose at the source of the scent, alerting the handler to him.

The regiment’s commanding officer, Colonel Zsolt Szilagyi, said the increased use of improvised explosive devices by extremist cells since the turn of the millennium has made it necessary to employ new methods to detect potential bombs.

“This was a challenge that the military had to respond to, and one of the best ways to detect these devices is to use explosive detection dogs,” Szilagyi said. “These four-legged comrades have been supporting our soldiers’ bomb disposal activities.”

Logan, he said, will serve as an inspector of important sites in Hungary and could be sent along with the country’s military on NATO missions abroad.

While rescued dogs often present training challenges due to their often traumatic backgrounds, Nemeth said she is confident Logan will be successful and a valuable addition to the unit.

“Logan is very valuable because approximately one in 10,000 rescued dogs is fit for military service, both medically and psychologically,” he said.

Recruiting rescue dogs often reveals their undiscovered abilities and allows them to find a new home where they can thrive, Szilagyi said.

“There are dogs that have great potential, but for some reason they have been marginalized,” he said. “We can give these dogs a new chance to be placed in a family, so to speak, where they can live a proper life in loving and competent hands and be useful.”

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