Most who see Sascha, a 3-year-old Belgian Malinois, run through in Hampton Bays would think she is just an ordinary pet, who loves her owner, the outdoors and treats.
But, what they don't know is that Sascha is a trained bomb sniffing dog, able to detect the presence of thousands of types of explosive substances, including those commonly used by terrorists.
After training extensively at a facility licensed by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives since she was a pup, Sascha recently passed her advanced level training and national certification in explosive odors recognition. She is also licensed by New York State.
"It is a big deal for Sascha," said her owner, Jared Ring, the owner of Task Force V.I.P.E.R. of Hampton Bays, a 10-year-old company that is contracted by government agencies to provide security services, including K-9 explosive detection and electronic jamming.
Ring said Sascha is among numerous Long Island-based working dogs that are routinely contracted for preventative measures, but her demand is high because she is the eastern-most bomb sniffing dog on Long Island.
"Most dogs out this way are trained for drug work, not for bombs," Ring said.
Ring explained that drug dogs are trained to paw at what they find, while bomb dogs learn to sit still when they detect something.
Sascha's demand is also based on the country's threat level, he said.
Usually, he said, Sascha is called out three times a week. Locally, she has sniffed for bombs at the East Hampton Airport, at area ferries and schools, Plum Island and the Hampton Jewish Center during high holidays.
Most people don't realize that even on Long Island there is concern for terrorism. He pointed to Dr. Aafia Siddiqui, an Al Qaeda leader who was captured with plans targeting Plum Island. And he referenced a 2000 incident where the Port Jefferson Ferry was used by Times Square Bomber Faisal Shahzad to meet his financier at LIRR Ronkonkoma Station.
So far, Sascha hasn't found any bombs, but Ring joked if she did, "that would be a bad day at the office."
As Sascha's handler, Ring said he is trained by the FBI to defuse bombs.