‘Beagle Brigade’ Helps Sniff Out Food Hidden Away In Luggage At Kennedy Airport

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.

  • Very conservative

    So let me get this straight. Apples and seeds (SEEDS?!?!?) are prohibited and easily caught from being imported because of the MINIMAL chance they bring disease, but illegal aliens that DEFINITELY destroy the economy are ok? Think I got it. And wonder if Canada has the same policy on importing vegetation? Would be nice to know for when I move there in a few years.

    • KPMc

      YES… Canada too has responsible Agriculture laws.

      Secondly, I find it funny that the one labeled Very Conservative is threatening he will move to a country with socialized medicine.

    • Mike Hunt Hertz

      If you don’t understand the concept of sound Agricultural Quarantine practices then don’t presume that the chance is minimal. There was a “minimal” chance of Med Fly in Florida and California, a “minimal chance” of the spread of Hoof and Mouth Disease in England/Ireland/Scottland. Medfly cost the US Taxpayer millions to control. Lets not mention the many millions of dollars lost in export income.
      Any idea what the Hoof and Mouth Disease outbreak cost the United Kingdom?
      You should rethink your statement. Furthermore, please don’t equate Immigration problems with Agricultural Quarantine issues. A country’s ability to produce an adequate food supply is essential to the welfare of its citizens.
      Immigration problems are remediated by law enforcement….Agricultural Pests don’t understand law or politics. But an established Agricultural Pest can most certainly cause severe economic hardships!.

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