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Super Sniffer

San Antonio K-9 Teams Kept America’s Big Game Safe

By Camp Bow Wow


You may have noticed a big football game played last month. 77,000 + fans crowded into Allegiant Stadium, with more than 1.2 million watching at home. What you may not know is that scores of K-9 teams — humans and their specially trained pup partners — traveled to Las Vegas to work behind the scenes to keep the area safe. The Department of Homeland designates the Super Bowl as a Special Event Assessment Rating Level 1 (SEAR-1) — the same threat level as a papal visit or presidential inauguration.


Two very special K-9 teams from San Antonio joined the pack this year to make sure the big day went off without interruption. Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officer Jennifer “J.T.” Trambulo and her partner Sneezy, a 6-year-old yellow Labrador, and San Antonio Police Department K-9 officer Gabe Mercado and German Shepherd Rocky were chosen to represent our city. 

Tonya Hope, San Antonio International Airport public relations manager, said that K-9 partners from the airport police department’s six-team unit have served on security detail for past Super Bowls, but J.T. was one of the first TSA agents from San Antonio selected for that honor. They joined at least 80 teams representing TSA, the Coast Guard, ATF, and Police Departments that included dogs of a variety of breeds. 


“Our dogs go through extensive training and are highly regarded,” Tonya said. “They are the only teams in the San Antonio area chosen to go to the Super Bowl.”


Gabe, a San Antonio native and 2007 graduate of Robert E. Lee High School, comes from a law-enforcement family. His brother, Bobby, also serves in Karnes City with a black Labrador K-9 named Robbie.


Sneezy and Rocky were trained through the Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland K-9 program, like many of the other dogs who perform valuable jobs for TSA, the Department of Defense and police. K-9 dogs have to be willing to work and be non-aggressive with other dogs and people, J.T. said. When she first saw Sneezy three years ago, the two had an immediate bond. J.T. had worked with other K-9s in her 20-year Navy career, but Sneezy is the first who actually lives at her home with her family. Sneezy practices good life/work balance. When not sniffing passengers, planes and packages 

for explosives, Sneezy romps on the floor with J.T.’s 

two preschoolers. 


J.T. and Sneezy spent most of their time in Las Vegas checking deliveries and equipment too large to fit through an X-Ray machine. Their most memorable moment was when U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas noticed Sneezy shivering on the cold tarmac at his official meeting and came over to pet her. J.T. was able to shake his hand personally and give him one of Sneezy’s ambassador coins.


It takes a special dog to be chosen to serve and protect at our country’s most sensitive checkpoints, and even more of an honor to be called to one of America’s biggest shows. Congratulations to J.T. and Sneezy, Gabe and Rocky for their service and good work.


Special thanks to San Antonio Express News writer Vincent T. Davis for his help contacting the K-9 team. 

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