12/03/2014 07:41 EST | Updated 02/02/2015 05:59 EST

Safeway bomb threat: Prince Rupert waits 2 hours for bomb dog

When a bomb threat is called in, a specially-trained explosive detection dog is immediately sent to sniff it out - but in small cities in B.C.'s northwest, it can take hours for the dog to get to the job.

Last Wednesday, a bomb threat was called in to the Safeway grocery store in Prince Rupert. It took two hours for a bomb dog to get to the scene — because it had to be flown in from Prince George, 495 kilometres away.

"That's the closest one we have that is bomb-trained and they're a specialty animal, just like any other dog that we have," Insp. Wayne Maughan with Prince Rupert RCMP told Daybreak North.

"We were fortunate enough that we did have a bomb dog available. A lot of detachments don't."

The Prince George dog is the only one in all of northern B.C. specially trained to sniff out a bomb. Maughan is worried about the delay, and what it could mean for public safety.

"The biggest concern we have is the unknowns. Is there something in there that can cause catastrophic damage?" he said.

Maughan isn't sure that concern justifies the cost of Prince Rupert getting its own explosive detection dog, however.

If Prince Rupert's city council were to invest in a dog, it would also have to hire a handler, which would cost upwards of $160,000 a year.

"It would be great to have a bomb dog here, it would be great to have a drug dog here."

But, he said, "Even if you use the bomb dog once a year, are you getting value for your resource at the end of the day?"

Maughan said he's not aware of any bomb threats in Prince Rupert prior to last week, although the CBC did find a report of one incident back in 2008. Wednesday's incident is still under investigation.

To hear more about the lack of explosive detection dogs in B.C.'s north, click on the audio clip labelled: No bomb dogs in B.C.'s north west