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FDACS/DPI Detector Dog Program marks First Anniversary

July 25, 2013

DDI Dogs

Detector Dogs (L-R) Bentley (Miami), Lexus (Winter Haven) and Audi (Apopka) take a break from duties detecting pests in shipments and at interdiction stations. (FDACS/DPI Photo)

The FDACS/DPI detector dog program has marked its first anniversary. Funded by the USDA Farm Bill, the program deploys detector dogs and their handlers to major mail/parcel hubs and assists at agricultural interdiction stations on Florida’s northern border.

Florida has large FedEx hubs in Orlando and Miami, 20 major UPS hubs, and large U.S. Post Offices in Miami, Ft. Lauderdale, Orlando, Tampa, and Jacksonville.

SealColor

Division of Plant Industry

The dogs inspect packages and mail as they are sorted on conveyor belts before being sent on  for further distribution.

The goal is to increase early detection of plants and diseases that may be contained in the packages, thus preventing infestations, with an estimated value of $5-10 million in savings per event.

The handlers and their dogs are Jennifer Mestas and Bentley, Karen Holton and Lexus and Gregg Farina and Audi.

Detector dogs play an important role in detecting material that may carry invasive plants and diseases. A Customs and Border Protection detector dog named Linus is the face of the Traveler’s “Don’t Pack a Pest” campaign that targets international travelers arriving at airports and cruise terminals in the U.S.

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