NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A team of specially-trained dogs are hard at work at Kennedy Airport but they’re not sniffing out bombs and drugs, they’re looking for food.
One of the dogs, Izzy, is trained to find meat, food, seeds and plants hidden away in luggage on international flights.
Once she uncovers the goods, her partner, Meghan Caffery, investigates further.
“People might say it’s just an apple but if that apple has an insect in it or a disease on it, it could devastate the agriculture industry in the United States,”Caffery tells CBS 2’s Cindy Hsu.
Any confiscated food heads to the grinding room where it’s examined and then ground up.
Customs supervisor James Armstrong said it’s where deadly diseases – such as mad cow and foot and mouth disease and cholera — can be stopped from spreading through the country.
There’s a long list of agricultural products on the no-fly list and some passengers will do all they can to hide it.
Armstrong said they recently recovered pork fat which had been cut into chunks and put in soda bottles as a disguise.
Izzy has undergone 10 weeks of special training to join what’s known as the Beagle Brigade. She and other detector dogs are all adopted.
They can make it through hundreds of bags within 15 to 20 minutes and there’s only one thing that will slow her down.
“She likes attention and she will do anything to get it,” Caffery said. “She loves kids so if she finds kids, she stops for a minute.”
Izzy and Caffery have been together for three years.
“She’s probably the best partners I’ve ever had here,” Caffery said. “She has her own chair in the office.”
Izzy is 6-years-old and normally the dogs work until they’re 8-years-old. However, supervisors say as long as Izzy is happy, she has a job.
When the dogs retire they’re put up for adoption and first in line to take them home is often their human partner.
That’s the plan for Izzy, who will be heading home with Caffery when she’s ready to give up the job.