Meet Valley Plaza’s professional sniffer: K9 Axel joins security team

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'Axel' is specially trained to sniff out firearms

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) – Valley Plaza Mall recently hired a new furry employee named Axel. He’s a K9 who can sniff out firearms. There’s a recent history of gun violence at the mall. Security and shoppers hope this professional sniffer will prevent future shootings. Axel came all the way from the Netherlands to keep shoppers safe at the Valley Plaza Mall.

“I’m glad they did it because there’s a lot of teenagers that come here and you don’t know what they’re carrying or what they’re intentions are,” Ana Varela, a Bakersfield resident.

Axel joined the mall security team on Monday with the sole job of sniffing out firearms. Since 2018, there have been three reported incidents of gun violence inside the mall.

“It’s really sad that so many shootings have happened, not just here but in Bakersfield all over,” said Nikki Heitman, a Bakersfield resident.

Shoppers and employees say they feel safer with Axel roaming around.

“I honestly feel like it’s very important that they have him around,” said Delanna Lujan, an employee at Shoe Palace. “Just so people feel more safer being here at the mall and do there shopping or work and not have to fear anything.”

A company called Shallow Creek Kennels in Pennsylvania imports these dogs from Europe, and trains them for security purposes. Trainers there keep the dogs for three months. They say the K9s are trained to recognize 21 explosive odors, the smell of a firearm, and ammunition, like gun powder. The dogs recognize these deadly weapons as toys and bark when they smell them.

“If anything they should probably have more than just one so that way there are sections to where a few of them are,” Lujan said.

Since Axel is from the Netherlands, he responds only to commands in Dutch. But his ears will pop up if you make a kissing sound.

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