Those who aim to smuggle bio-terror threats, contraband, money, or other forbidden items through LAX International Airport have to circumvent one team of heroic dogs: the Beagle Brigade K-9 team.
Nancy Withrow, an agriculture specialist K9 handler, spoke to ABC 7 about Yodal, one famed member of the team: “They can actually detect anything at a huge distance, he can grab things off the carousel and it will take him half way around, but he can pick it up over there and we are over here.”
Officer Jill Chen added that pesticides can be smuggled into the country to be used as bio-terrorism threat, pointing out, “People don’t realize that a single orange a plant cutting, they can do major damage millions of dollars.”
The U.S. Customs and Border Protection seized more than 1.6 million possibly harmful items in 2014.
The Beagle Brigade was established in 1984 by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) at the Los Angeles International Airport. One beagle was trained to sniff out plants and animal products in luggage and carry-on items from international flights.
The beagles were chosen primarily because of their keen sense of smell. Humans have about five million scent receptors, but beagles have roughly 220 million scent receptors.