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Behind the scenes with the Chicago O’Hare ‘Beagle Brigade’

With 40 to 60 international flights coming in each day to O’Hare, the CBP agricultural specialists stay busy chauffeuring their companions with a keen sense of smell around Terminal 5. 

Since African swine fever was first reproted in China last August and has continued to spread across Eastern Europe, the USDA has increased its surveillance efforts at ports of entry, paying particular attention to cargo, passengers and products arriving from China and other ASF-affected countries. One of the agency’s goals is to increase its detector dog teams, the “Beagle Brigade,” with U.S. Customs and Border Protection to sniff out illegal products at key U.S. commercial sea and airports. While ASF does not affect humans, international travelers could unknowingly bring the virus into the country from food items that can carry the disease.

Recently National Hog Farmer and This Week in Agribusiness had the opportunity to visit the Chicago O’Hare International Airport and see the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agricultural specialists and Beagle Brigade in action. With 40 to 60 international flights coming in each day to O’Hare, the CBP agricultural specialists stay busy questioning passengers about potential prohibited agricultural products in their luggage and chauffeuring their companions with a keen sense of smell around Terminal 5. 

In this NHF slideshow, see some of O’Hare’s best-known beagles in action, the collection of smuggled food items they have detected in carry-ons and luggage over the years, and what the dog detector team finds when a flight from Shanghai arrives. 

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