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On duty with K-9 unit at Grand Central Terminal

Canine crusaders are helping keep New York City safe.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority Police Department took PIX11 News on an afternoon tour with one of the teams at Grand Central Terminal.

Officer Anthony Ferrera and Mac could be assigned to a number of locations in the system.

Mac is named for NYPD Transit Officer James McNaughton, who was killed in Iraq in 2005 while serving in the Army.

NYPD, The Port Authority, and Amtrak also have canine teams.

The dogs and MTA Police Officers train together.

The 72-acre MTAPD Canine Training Facility in Stormville, New York opened in 2016. There are indoor and outdoor training facilities where the dogs and officers can run through scenarios.

The MTA says it has the biggest mass transit explosives detection force in the country. 50 dogs patrol Grand Central Terminal, Penn Station,  trains, stations, tracks and yards of the Long Island Rail Road, Metro-North Railroad and Staten Island Railway.

“Our Canine Unit team is incredibly dedicated,” said MTAPD Lt. John Kerwick. “Officers and dogs worked in the facility throughout the construction process, using improvised classroom space.”

The teams are on track to have processed 4,000 reports of unattended packages this year. In 2015, they cleared 2,748 packages and responded to more than 26,000 requests for assistance.

“We have a highly elite Canine Unit,” said Lt. John Kerwick. “Dogs are put through a rigorous testing and training program, and only about one in thirty are deemed skilled enough to join the MTAPD.”

The dogs begin training at one year old and they work for 5 to 9 years, when they are then often adopted by the officer's family.