Passage of an exotic microbe from across the globe can be just a flight away, so we need lots of help in preventing the spread of foreign animal diseases. But who knew that the savviest detectives would have wet noses and wagging tails?
Elite dogs in the Beagle Brigades are trained to search carry-ons and checked luggage for fruits, vegetables, plants and meat that are banned from entry into the United States. Each beagle or beagle-mix pooch is paired with a U.S. Customs and Border Protection specialist. When prompted, the dog checks out people and bags in the customs line and then sniffs luggage on the corresponding carousel. Upon detection of contraband, the pooch wags his tail and sits at the bag of interest until the handler removes it for inspection.
We’re all safer with this band of four-legged biosecurity agents on the job.