With international tourism resuming to near pre-pandemic levels, it means detector dogs are back in a big way.
Canada Border Services Agency, for one, is taking time to paws, er, pause to thank its four-legged agents on the lookout for drugs, guns, money, and food, plant and animal products at airports and border crossings.
These specially-trained dogs with jobs bust thousands of people every year trying to smuggle illegal items into the country.
#WoofWednesday – DYK that #DetectorDog teams are involved in thousands of interceptions every year? Our #K9 allies help the #CBSA by detecting prohibited and regulated drugs, guns, money, and food, plant and animal products. Learn more: https://t.co/KUQxKXBPfI pic.twitter.com/6nejsG6aOH— Canada Border Services Agency (@CanBorder) July 6, 2022
“Canada Customs began using detector dogs in 1978 to help frontline officers with a more effective method of detecting drugs and firearms,” the government explained.
Their role expanding over the years to detect more contraband items, but they also simplify searches and get passengers as well as their baggage through screening more quickly.
Hunting dog breeds such as Labrador retrievers, springer spaniels, golden retrievers, Nova Scotia duck tolling retrievers, and also beagles are suited to this type of work.
The training is extensive.
Only one in 10 dogs are even accepted into the program and then, they are re-evaluated annually.
#DYK only 1 of 10 dogs evaluated is accepted into #CBSA’s #DetectorDog Service program? Once dogs go on duty, an assessor evaluates every dog team annually to ensure they are working effectively. Learn more about our #DogsWithJobs: https://t.co/xH1P6tbwkA pic.twitter.com/F3Ovxj4N83— Canada Border Services Agency (@CanBorder) June 20, 2022
“Previously, all dogs were trained to scratch, dig, bite and bark at the source of a contraband odour,” officials explained. “Today, the primary method of training is for dogs to give a subtle signal to their handler when detecting contraband.”
If you know a dog that has what it takes, CBSA is always looking for new recruits.
Typically they must start training young and not be shy, timid or be aggressive. They also need to have a “strong character,” great focus and good agility.
The National Detector Dog training program is based in Quebec.