Pubdate: Tue, 21 May 2013
Source: Regina Leader-Post (CN SN)
Copyright: 2013 The Leader-Post Ltd.
Author: Tyler Dawson


OTTAWA - Federal search dogs at international border entry points 
have a penchant for sniffing out one thing more than anything else: meat.

In fact, dogs trained to find animal products turn up meat around 20 
times more frequently than drug-sniffing dogs find narcotics, 
according to government documents obtained by Postmedia News under 
access-to-information legislation.

The release of the data comes as federal officials question the 
necessity and effectiveness of the dogs, with the Canada Border 
Services Agency dismantling some of its search-dog teams over the 
past year - a move the federal union believes will erode the ability 
to quickly search incoming cargo and seize drugs and firearms.

Of the more than 31,000 seizures of meat, animal products and animals 
in the 2011-12 fiscal year, 7,179 of the seizures (more than eight 
tonnes of illegally imported meat) were attributable to detector 
dogs. That's compared to 360 seizures of drugs such as cannabis, 
cocaine and heroin (totalling 1,259 kilograms) coming from detector 
dogs out of 10,187 drug seizures in the same period, according to the 

Despite their presence at airports and at border crossings, detector 
dogs aren't responsible for a significant proportion of illicit items 
seized by the CBSA.

According to a report on the agency's performance, CBSA search dogs 
were involved in only 3.5 per cent of all direct drug seizures in 
2011-12. When you include the discovery of "narcotic residue" and 
drug paraphernalia, there were 708 drug-related seizures (out of a 
total 10,187) attributed to search dogs.

In comparison, sniffer dogs found 23 per cent of all meat and animal 
products impounded by the border services agency in the same time 
period. The detector dogs were responsible for six times more of the 
meat seizures than they were drug seizures.

The amount of drugs seized by detector dogs is so relatively small 
partly because there aren't that many detector dog teams, compared to 
the number of other officers working at border crossings, said Dan 
Robinson, with the union representing border services workers.

"There's obviously a lot more officers out looking for drugs than 
there are dogs looking for drugs," he said.

"Yeah, the numbers probably look low, but I would suspect it has more 
to do with how the tool is used," he said, pointing out that the 
number of seizures from mechanical detection equipment might be 
equally low when compared to the overall total.

Lawrence Myers, who studies detector dog capabilities at Auburn 
University in Alabama, said the fact that dogs are sniffing out far 
more meat than drugs could be due to several factors, such as the 
number and scheduling of dogs working at each crossing and the 
quantity of each type of contraband crossing the border.

Another factor could be the likelihood that drug smugglers are 
spending more time hiding their product than those who have their 
meat seized at the border, he said.
- ---
MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom