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2 March 1999
Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry trained contraband-busting beagle dogs are in demand overseas, with the sale of three beagles to Australia and requests from other countries to purchase also.
Three fully trained beagle dogs (two females, one male) left for their new home at Sydney Airport earlier this month. They were purchased by the Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service (AQIS).
The sold dogs were surplus from an earlier training course. MAF has one detector dog team in Wellington, two in Christchurch, five at Auckland Airport and two at
Auckland's Mail Centre.
Prior to sale, MAF's Quarantine Detector Dog Programme manager Rene Gloor had the opportunity to inspect AQIS's quarantine procedures, and they met with his approval. He said the Ministry "would not sell its dogs to just anybody." This has meant that not all requests to purchase MAF dogs from overseas countries have
been fulfilled. MAF had received a request for eight dogs which was rejected.
Mr Gloor said the demand for the beagles was a tribute to MAF's in-house breeding and training programme and to the selection of the dogs and their handlers. MAF officers have also travelled overseas to train dog handlers. Late last year Mr Gloor trained an Argentinean dog handler team and was asked to set up Argentina's quarantine detector dog programme. Mr Gloor was also asked to observe and review the Hawaiian detector dog programme.
In the past year MAF has provided quarantine and consultancy and training services to Vanuatu, Papua New Guinea, the Cook Islands, Fiji, Samoa, New Caledonia and Tonga.
MAF breeds the majority of its beagles, which are passive response dogs, meaning they merely sit and refuse to move from where they find quarantine material, such as fruit, meat products and honey. The Ministry also trains active response dogs which are used at the Auckland Mail Centre. These dogs actively pursue parcels containing quarantine contraband. These behind the scene dogs are not beagles, and most have been rescued from animal shelters.
MAF runs an integrated quarantine detection programme which includes x-ray machines, declaration forms, in-flight videos, amnesty bins, public awareness campaigns, quarantine officers, as well as the detector dog teams.
Almost 450,000 passengers arrive in New Zealand each year with quarantine material requiring clearance by MAF. MAF Quarantine Service's General Manager Neil Hyde said that it was a real concern that more than 1000 passengers per week were found with undeclared quarantine material.
The deployment of x-ray units, detector dog teams and quarantine officers are matched to the level of demand at any given time. An increased need is expected with the up-and-coming APEC conference, the America's Cup, 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, and new millennium celebrations.
For further information contact:
Neil Hyde, General Manager, MAF Quarantine Service, Tel: 025 928254