They call him “Hardy.”
He’s a six-year-old rescue beagle who has worked with U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) since 2015.
Coverage of border seizures on Globalnews.ca:
And he’s a member of the “Beagle Brigade,” a canine corps tasked with sniffing out animal and plant products in people’s luggage.
Hardy may have made one of the biggest discoveries of his career recently when he detected something in a checked luggage item as it travelled through Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport (ATL) from Ecuador.
Agricultural specialists took a closer look at the luggage and found that it contained a roasted pig’s head that weighed almost two pounds.
The product was destroyed — and officials with CBP subsequently heaped praise on their canine companions.
“Our best defense against destructive pests and animal diseases is to prevent the entry of prohibited agriculture products from entering the United States,” Carey Davis, CBP’s area port director for the Port of Atlanta, said in a news release.
“This seizure at ATL illustrates the tremendous expertise of our four-legged K-9 partners in protecting the United States.”
CBP went on to say that pork and pork products from different continents are banned from entering the U.S. due to concerns about diseases such as classical swine fever, swine vesicular disease and foot and mouth disease.
The “Beagle Brigade” was first established by the U.S. Department of Agricultural (USDA) in 1984.
The USDA later transferred responsibility for agricultural inspection to CBP in 2003.
Beagles are considered the best breed for sniffing out products at the airport because they have a strong sense of smell, they’re not very big and they have a “gentle disposition with the public.”
Dogs that enter the USDA National Detector Dog Training Centre (NDDTC) are either rescues or donated privately.