Australia’s biosecurity detector dog program is celebrating 30 years ofdedication and detection on Australia’s biosecurity frontline.

Andrew Metcalfe AO, Secretary of the Department of Agriculture, Water and theEnvironment and Australia’s Director of Biosecurity, said detector dogs havebecome a critical part of the department’s biosecurity detection capability.

“The first barks about employing biosecurity detector dogs in Australia tookplace in 1991 when the department, in consultation with the US Department ofAgriculture, developed a pilot detector dog program,” Metcalfe said.

“In 1992 our first biosecurity detector dog teams started operations in Sydneyand Brisbane, with the first Beagle reporting for duty at Darwin airport in1996.

“Beagles were the first dogs to be employed by the detector dog program andwere used as passive response detector dogs, in the airport and seaportenvironments.

“The department introduced Labradors into our biosecurity operations in 2009.

“Today our detector dogs are deployed across Australia’s internationalairports, with our fleet of 42 dogs and 43 operational handlers set to expandby the end of 2022.”

Colin Hunter, First Assistant Secretary of Biosecurity Operations at thedepartment, said our world class detector dog program is fast, mobile andeffective at detecting biosecurity risks in the mail, traveller, and cargoenvironments.

“The dogs have become an invaluable element of Australia’s extensivebiosecurity system in ensuring compliance in travellers and sniffing outdifficult to detect biosecurity risks and we are continuing to expand theircapabilities,” Hunter said.

“Most recently detector dogs have been trained to sniff out the scent of brownmarmorated stink bugs, one of our top priority plant pests.

“Last financial year the detector dogs seized approximately 16,000 biosecurityrisk items. The three most detected items included meat, seeds and fruit whichcould all carry pests and diseases that would seriously harm our environment,agricultural industries, and economy if they were to establish here.

“The howling success of our detector dog program in helping to protectAustralia from exotic pests and diseases over the past 30 years is definitelypaws for a celebration. It is exciting to think about where the program may bein another 30 years.”

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