Every year, billions of dollars worth of agricultural products are shipped into and through California. Incoming shipments of items like seeds, plants, soil, fruits and vegetables can present a major risk to California’s agricultural industry, the environment, and our backyard gardens if they are sent from areas that have pests or plant diseases we don’t have here in California. Incoming shipments of agricultural products are an easy way for insects, plant diseases, and weeds to hitch-hike a ride into the State.
Every day, Agricultural Biologists visit parcel facilities and inspect packages containing agricultural products. But, there are many packages that are not labeled on the outside of the box and we have no idea whether or not they contain agricultural products.
To combat this problem, Santa Clara County’s Division of Agriculture deploys a canine parcel inspection team. Our detector team consists of our canine, “Hawkeye”, and several agricultural biologists. We take Hawkeye to parcel facilities and he scratches at parcels containing agricultural products to alert our dog-handler. The package is then inspected by a biologist to determine if the agricultural products are allowed into California.
To learn more about California’s dog teams, you can visit the California Department of Food and Agricultural website. To see pictures, current information, interesting finds, and program updates about our dog team, visit our dog team’s blog website.