MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The Minnesota Department of Public Safety is ramping up protection at the State Capitol by adding a four-legged, bomb-sniffing security officer.

The State Capitol Security introduced Matka to the media on Monday. She is a 1-and-a-half–year-old Hungarian Vizsla who recently completed a 10-week training course in explosives detection.

Matka’s trainer says she fits in well with one of Minnesota largest and most unique buildings, which hosts thousands of visitors daily.

“This … was unique, just because of the environment,” Sgt. Chad Mills, a Minnesota State Patrol K-9 Trainer, said. “So we wanted an approachable dog for kids or people … coming here for groups, that they can approach, especially people that aren’t comfortable around dogs.”

Matka’s duties will include patrolling the State Capitol grounds, responding to suspicious packages and sniffing for bombs before big events.

Lt. Gov. Tina Flint Smith says it is part of an overall ramping up of security at the Capitol during the three-year, $300-million building renovation. Smith chairs the special State Capitol security committee.

“It is true that I have never met a dog that I didn’t love, but this dog is a special dog,” Smith said. “There is a special responsibility to keep this place safe, and that is what this amazing dog is going to help us do going forward.”

The State Capitol is currently closed to the public during the renovation. Millions of dollars are budgeted towards technical security upgrades and additional staff.

Pat Kessler

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