U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agricultural K-9 team announced a new addition to their Toronto Pearson International Airport operations. The new K-9 team member goes by the name of Wade and he will serve as the first CBP agriculture canine in their Toronto Preclearance operations. Wade was welcomed in February as he started his fourth year working as a CBP agriculture detector dog. Wade started his new career in 2015 when USDA Beagle Brigade spotted him in an Alabama animal control center. Upon his adoption, one-year-old Wade was evaluated, trained in the proper search, detect and alert procedures and honored with certification.

Wade stands up to the challenge

Before Wade was transferred to Toronto, he served at Hartfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport and then served for a short time at Chicago O’Hare International Airport. Lee DeLoatch, CBP Port Director for Toronto Preclearance Operations stated that Wade has adapted well to his surroundings and has shown off his skills with over one hundred alerts. Thanks to Wade's great skills 62 seizures have been made consisting of 84 plant materials and three animal products. One of Wade's alert led to the seizure and issuing of a civil penalty to a passenger from China, who was found trying to bring in undeclared prohibited avian and swine products during a baggage check.

Due to the rapid spread of African swine fever (ASF) throughout China since August 2018 the above seizure was very important. ASF is a rapidly spreading, highly contagious and deadly virus that could wreak havoc on the pork industry in the US since there is no vaccine or treatment available.

CBP detector dogs

U.S. Customs & Border Protection (CBP) K-9 have long been a key partner in the screening of passengers and detecting forbidden agricultural items in cargo, as well as, preventing the induction of plant pests and foreign animal disease from entering the U.S.

Because of beagles abilities to single out odors they can scan a piece of luggage for smuggled or forgotten food items in mere seconds. This lead to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to create their now famous K-9 program in 1984 under the name of 'Beagle Brigade' at the Los Angeles International Airport.

Beagle abilities stand out

The program started with one beagle trained to sniff out and alert officers of forbidden products arriving on international flights. Beagles became the dog of choice because of their hunting skills, great disposition, and non-threatening size. They also possess a keen sense of smell. In 2000, USDA added Labrador for CBP cargo inspections at airports and seaports. A few years later USDA transferred agricultural inspectors to CBP which included the canine team. Today the CBP agricultural K-9 teams consist of 179 beagle teams, 180 counting Wade.