U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Sonny Perdue observes USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) Plant Protection and Quarantine program (PPQ) National Detector Dog Training Center (NDDTC) Training Specialist Kathleen Warfield and Detector Dog Trainee Buddy demonstrate their ability to detect fruit in a mock airport baggage claim area, in Newnan, Georgia on April 5, 2019.
USDA’s PPQ program detector dogs speed the efforts to determine foreign pest or disease outbreak, infestation’s boundaries and identify pest-free areas. They could also work at ports, sniffing entire shipments of commodities to detect traces of insect larvae or plant disease.
For decades, PPQ has been training canines to sniff out fruits, vegetables, and certain meat products. They have detected prohibited or restricted agricultural imports with impressive effectiveness. In 2016 alone, PPQ experts trained 67 dogs and 91 canine handlers for use by PPQ, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, State departments of agriculture, county agricultural commissioner's offices, and foreign agriculture ministries.
PPQ’s National Detector Dog Training Center started in 1984 with just one dog and one trainer. Today, the Center is located in Newnan, GA, on 17 acres with 8 buildings and 100 kennels. The Center provides standard training on inspecting passenger baggage, cargo, mail, and parcels for prohibited or restricted agricultural items.
On average, dogs have hundreds of millions of scent-detecting cells in their nasal cavities, as compared to humans who only have 5 million. In addition, dogs are able to detect a single scent among complexes of many, overlapping scents.
Related USAF story and photos of USDA handler and dog detecting brown tree snakes at an airbase in Guam.
USDA photo by Lance Cheung.
. Original public domain image from Flickr