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Pawsome detector dogs keeping Australia biosecure 


Image courtesy Department of Agriculture

Australia’s biosecurity detector dogs continued their outstanding work last year, screening incoming passengers and goods for biosecurity risk items at airports, mail centres and sea ports.

Head of Biosecurity at the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment, Lyn O’Connell, said detector dogs are a vital part of Australia’s frontline defence against pests and diseases.

“Our detector dogs were a howling success again last year, intercepting more than 56,000 biosecurity risk items across our airports and mail centres,” Ms O’Connell said.

“Any of these items could have carried a pest or disease that could impact on our industries, environment, plant, animal and human health.

“Over 4,000 undeclared meat products were also detected by our detector dog fleet last year, including 1,800 undeclared pork products. These products are a significant risk, because they can carry African swine fever (ASF), which has the potential to ruin our pork industry”.

In 2019-20 there were three visa cancellations for breaches of Australian biosecurity laws, all through referrals from detector dogs.

One of the most common biosecurity breaches in 2019 was in fruit. Australia are currently especially on guard against the Brown Marmorated Stink Bug, which is causing significant issues in the Northern Hemisphere. The BMSB is one of the top 10 high priority pests for apples and pears. Australia’s biosecurity dogs are one line of defence against the bug, but it is important to stay vigilant – click here for information and warning signs regarding the pests.

Here are some of the best stats around our biosecurity dogs:

Key facts and stats

  • detector dogs find up to 9,000 biosecurity risk items during their working life
  • The three most common items the detector dogs find are meat, fruit and seeds
  • There are currently 43 biosecurity detector dogs working for the department, including 39 operational detector dogs and 4 novice dogs
  • Last year, one of the most significant detector dog finds for one passenger included:

– 855 grams of sausage
– 1.5kgs of duck
– 430 grams of dumpling
– 375 grams of eggplant
– 4.9kgs grams of fresh lotus
– 440 grams of beans
–  250 grams of tofu and two boiled eggs

  • Detector Dog Parker in Adelaide made the most airport seizures in 2019, which also resulted in the most number of infringements issued at 132


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