Sniffer Beagles have been on duty at the Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport since 2002 (following several stages of planning and international training since 2001). They are used mostly to regulate agricultural products and associated invasive pests and plant diseases.
As direct traffic from China has increased multi-fold in recent years, the need for skilled canine assistance has become more apparent. Of the 53,000+ illicit items nabbed in 2012, the detection dogs were responsible for 90%, whereas the all-too-human customs officers, even with the assistance of fancy X-ray technology, only accounted for 10% of scores. In one notable bust from 2012, detector dogs nabbed 1041 kg of mushrooms, 48 rounds of ammunition, and 277 boxes of bull pizzles stashed in two shipping containers. It’s as if the smugglers were asking to have their contraband seized…
Currently, there are 39 working detection dog teams patrolling Taiwan’s various ports of entry: the Taipei international postal sorting site, the Songshan Airport, the Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport (where the majority are stationed), the Taichung Airport, the Kaohsiung Airport, and the Port of Matsu. Amongst these 39 teams are five dogs that can be moved on assignment as necessary. Each dog averages six working hours a day, with two days of rest per week. At least one day of their working week is dedicated to ongoing training.
In Taiwan, the dogs engaged in pro-active detection (scratching or actively indicating the scent) are Beagles, Labrador Retrievers, and one single Pointer. The passive response detection teams (where the dog moves freely among the public, and sits or lies down in front of its target) are comprised mostly of Beagles, and there is one trained mix in the group.
I guess it’s a good thing this Beagle was not inclined to stay still before me when I was taking his picture!
References and further reading:
- Lu, Si-wen 呂斯文. Working plans to implement a sniffer dog program 檢疫犬計畫之規劃構思 (2001). Council of Agriculture, Executive Yuan working group 行政院農業委員會. http://www.coa.gov.tw/view.php?catid=2185
- Bureau of Animal and Plant Health Inspection and Quarantine, Council of Agriculture, Executive Yuan. http://www.baphiq.gov.tw/content_edit.php?menu=&typeid=1389&typeid2=1390
(Profiles of some of the individual dogs can be found here)
- Zhong, Lihua 鍾麗華. “Taiwan Taoyuan Airport ‘Dogged’ by Detective Dog Shortages” 桃機檢疫犬不夠 國門現漏洞. Liberty Times 《自由時報》. 27 May 2013. http://www.libertytimes.com.tw/2013/new/may/27/today-life8.htm
- Tzeng, I-Chin 曾懿晴. “Detector Dogs — Canine Corps Striking Down Smugglers” 打擊走私的狗狗軍團–檢疫犬. United Daily News Blog: 日子依舊成排站立. 30 May 2011. http://blog.udn.com/ichintzeng/5267652
- Ministry of Finance, R.O.C. “Taiwan Customs Detector Dog Teams Plays a Pivotal Role in Fighting Against Drug Trafficking.” 4 July 2013. http://www.mof.gov.tw/engweb/ct.asp?xItem=72917&ctNode=544&mp=2