SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WCIA) — Rockie and Ozcar aren’t your typical workers at O’Hare Airport. They’re three years old, about a foot tall, and also beagles.
U.S. Customs and Borders Protection hires about 2,000 beagles to sniff out luggage from international travelers to make sure no illegal agricultural items are brought into the United States. Handlers Sari Hall and Connie Totzke demonstrated Ozcar and Rockie performing a search at the state fair to show how they work.
Ozcar and Rockie smell each luggage. If they find agricultural contraband, they sit to alert their handlers to inspect the luggage.
The beagles’ job is to prevent the spread of foreign pests and diseases attached to the contraband to crops.
“African swine fever is a very hot topic,” Totzke said. “Most farmers have heard of it as it’s spreading around the world like it’s wildfire. We’re trying to keep that from coming into the U.S.”
To learn more about what agricultural products you can and cannot bring into the U.S., you can visit this site. A demonstration of the beagles’ work is at the fair each day at the Department of Ag tent.