Australia’s biosecurity detector dog program is celebrating 30 years of
dedication and detection on Australia’s biosecurity frontline.
Andrew Metcalfe AO, Secretary of the Department of Agriculture, Water and the
Environment and Australia’s Director of Biosecurity, said detector dogs have
become a critical part of the department’s biosecurity detection capability.
“The first barks about employing biosecurity detector dogs in Australia took
place in 1991 when the department, in consultation with the US Department of
Agriculture, developed a pilot detector dog program,” Metcalfe said.
“In 1992 our first biosecurity detector dog teams started operations in Sydney
and Brisbane, with the first Beagle reporting for duty at Darwin airport in
“Beagles were the first dogs to be employed by the detector dog program and
were used as passive response detector dogs, in the airport and seaport
“The department introduced Labradors into our biosecurity operations in 2009.
“Today our detector dogs are deployed across Australia’s international
airports, with our fleet of 42 dogs and 43 operational handlers set to expand
by the end of 2022.”
Colin Hunter, First Assistant Secretary of Biosecurity Operations at the
department, said our world class detector dog program is fast, mobile and
effective at detecting biosecurity risks in the mail, traveller, and cargo
“The dogs have become an invaluable element of Australia’s extensive
biosecurity system in ensuring compliance in travellers and sniffing out
difficult to detect biosecurity risks and we are continuing to expand their
capabilities,” Hunter said.
“Most recently detector dogs have been trained to sniff out the scent of brown
marmorated stink bugs, one of our top priority plant pests.
“Last financial year the detector dogs seized approximately 16,000 biosecurity
risk items. The three most detected items included meat, seeds and fruit which
could 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 protect
Australia from exotic pests and diseases over the past 30 years is definitely
paws for a celebration. It is exciting to think about where the program may be
in another 30 years.”
Tagged: biosecurity detector dog
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