Hungarian military finds life mission for abused dog

BUDAPEST, Hungary (AP) — The Hungarian military has found a new mission in life for a talented dog rescued from an abusive owner, recruiting 2-year-old Logan to serve in an elite bomb squad’s counter-terrorist operations.

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

In the troop garrison on the Danube in the capital, Budapest, Logan received daily social and obedience training and was trained to recognize the smell of 25 different explosive substances.

“He had started learning how to smell explosives in a completely homogeneous environment, and he had also started learning how to search for motor vehicles and boats,” said Sergeant 1st Class Balazs Nemeth, Logan’s trainer.

Logan’s new role as a bomb sniffer comes after a fraught early life. In 2021, animal welfare officials received a message that a dog had been abused and held in inhumane conditions in a rural home in northeastern Hungary. During a site inspection, officials found Logan confined in a one-meter (3-foot) chain and malnourished.

A few weeks later, Nemet, the regiment’s training officer, visited Logan’s shelter and began assessing his suitability to become a professional bomb sniffer.

“The moment we met him, the first impression was very positive. We saw an energetic dog in relatively good shape, and we had immediate confidence in him,” Nemet said.

During a demonstration of the unit’s garrison, Nemet opened a case containing two dozen simulated explosive materials, such as C-4, TNT, ammonium nitrate, and others, which Logan had been trained to detect.

After hiding a small packet of explosives in a concealed crevice in one of the regiment’s riverboats, Nemet took Logan to the training area, where he immediately began sniffing the package and found it within seconds. The dog’s body tensed, and he pointed his nose to the source of the smell, reminding his owner.

The regiment’s commander, Colonel Zsolt Szilagyi, said the increasing use of improvised explosive devices by extremists since the turn of the century necessitated new methods of detecting potential bombs.

“This is a challenge that the military has to address, and one of the best ways to detect these devices is with explosive detection dogs,” Siraj said. “These four-legged comrades have been supporting our bomb disposal activities.”

He said Logan would serve as an inspector for key locations in Hungary and could be sent to NATO missions abroad along with the country’s military.

While rescued dogs often face challenges in training due to their often traumatic background, Nemet said he believes Logan will succeed and bring a valuable addition to the unit.

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

Recruiting rescued dogs often reveals their undiscovered abilities and allows them to find a new home in which to thrive, Szilagyi said.

“There are dogs with great potential, but for some reason, they’re pushed to the brink,” he said. “We can give these dogs a new opportunity to be housed in a family, so to speak, where they can live a normal life in loving, competent hands and be useful.”

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