Dogs for Pest Protection
Cregan…”I think the problem is that a lot of the general public out there is unaware that they can't just ship an agricultural commodity into California. We have our border protection stations for people driving in; but how do you protect California agriculture from packages and parcels that are coming into California? Our county and throughout the state we have detector dog teams that go into these parcel facilities and they're looking specifically for packages that contain plant material. On the plant material is going to be the pest. That's how they come in. These teams go out and they look for the packages, they open up, they inspect them, and we find all kinds of stuff.”
Dogs and handlers complete a 10-week course that trains them initially on five odors: citrus, apple, mango, guava, and stone fruit. Once the dogs detect the odor and notify the handler, trained biologists inspect the produce for potential pests or disease.
Some of the plant pests that have been intercepted by these dog teams include Asian Citrus Psyllid, Citrus canker, European corn borer, hickory shuckworm, Japanese beetle, and both west Indian and Caribbean fruit flies.