BUFFALO, N.Y. — The Bills may be out of the playoffs, but the countdown is on for a couple of NFTA K-9s and their handlers to head to Arizona to work security at the Super Bowl.
"We're super honored to be able to go," Officer Dina Bigham, who will be working with her K-9 partner Eci. "We have one of the largest K-9 programs in Western New York and we're fortunate enough that the NFTA allows two of us to get out of work for a couple of weeks and go assist with the event."
Officer Bigham and Eci, along with Officer Luke Whelan and K-9 Liza, all previously worked at Super Bowl LIV in Miami in 2020.
"It was the best experience I've ever had. We were there ten days." Officer Bigham said. "We were assigned to a vehicle checkpoint in Miami and then on Super Bowl Sunday, we were at the VIP gate so we met some pretty high-ups in the NFL and a bunch of celebrities and it was a really great experience."
Officers Bigham and Whelan will leave Friday, February 3rd, and return to Buffalo the day after the Super Bowl.
"We don't know what our assignment will be until we get there, so we have to pack for everything," Officer Bigham said. "The temperatures are going to be anywhere from 40-70, so we have to be ready for everything. Plus, we have to pack everything for the dog. Their food, their gear, crates, kennels, all of it."
Eci and Liza specialize in explosive detection.
"We work in and around the airport. We get deployed to suspicious packages and items and we sweep some of the outgoing cargo among other things," Officer Whelan said. "Down at the Super Bowl that will be our function as well. Sweeping different venues and items that are coming into the Super Bowl."
While the Bills in the playoffs added some extra excitement to the assignment, the NFTA officers say they are looking forward to representing Buffalo on an international stage.
"Obviously it would be nice to go in and catch some of the game," Officer Whelan said. "But it's a really great opportunity to go to another city, work with other agencies, meet different people. So just a lot of exciting things we'll be doing down there."