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Area dogs to sweep high-profile locations for bombs

December 29, 1999|By LAURA ERNDE

A Hagerstown native is sending his 19 bomb-sniffing dogs to millennium celebrations in three U.S. cities.

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Russ Ebersole is taking two dogs to Washington, D.C., to sweep for bombs at festivities planned at the national mall.

Other handlers are taking dogs to San Rafael, Calif., and Disney World in Orlando, Fla., Ebersole said.

Ebersole is the founder of the Winchester, Va.-based Detector Dogs Against Drugs and Explosives (DDADE, pronounced "daddy").

He said his dogs are trained to detect the tiniest amounts of illegal drugs, gunpowder or explosives.

Ebersole said he believes the threat of a terrorist attack is real because it's so easy to get explosives. Gunpowder, for example, can be easily purchased at stores such as Kmart.

"I'm frightened. I am," he said. "I think it's certainly prudent that we all be on alert."

The contract was inked Tuesday with San Rafael, which is expecting more than 60,000 people at a series of downtown concerts.

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There were no bomb-sniffing dogs available on the West Coast, he said.

Ebersole is charging $1,000 for eight hours of each dog's sweep time, he said.

He is trying to convince Washington County authorities to hire him at a reduced cost to search middle and high schools on a monthly basis, he said.

Ebersole said it would cost the schools $28,000 for him to conduct monthly sweeps at all county middle and high schools for one school year.

DDADE has offices in seven cities and plans to open two more early next year, Ebersole said.

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