When traveling by plane, some of the things you can’t take on a plane are relatively logical choices. It’s pretty obvious why weapons or volatile substances can’t be taken on board, for example. But some other things that can be restricted are prohibited for less obvious reasons. Seeds and other agricultural products, for example, are often restricted by various countries around the world.
The US Customs and Border Patrol website explains that “[p]prohibited agricultural products may harbor plant pests and exotic animal diseases that could seriously damage US crops, livestock, and the environment. But not all contraband will be obvious to the naked eye or an x-ray machine.
This is where beagles come in.
A new article on New York Times details the efforts of the government’s Beagle Brigade, which can be found at airports, postal depots and borders across the country. Their job is to detect various banned substances – a process that begins with a 13-week training program, after which they can detect five basic odors.
As the Time recalls that beagles are generally used in airports for the inspection of baggage carousels. Why? Due to the breed’s generally friendly disposition, it seems. I’m typing this near a beagle who a few days ago found a fully shrink-wrapped Clif Bar that had been expired for a year, so – I can very well attest to their scent skills.
This is important work for dogs. And they appear to be effective in this area – according to the article, the dogs have found 96,000 pounds of illicit material so far this year.
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