The dogs sell the vision
Not only do the Department of Agriculture have the cutest sniffer dogs, these animals also work to control the arrival of pests, weeds and diseases from interstate. Four handlers, one kennel controller and six dogs cover the domestic terminals at Perth Airport and target items such as fruits, vegetables, plants and honey.
These adorable dogs are also being used to educate travellers on WA’s strict quarantine measures, regularly taking centre stage at events. They even have their own Instagram account – providing a dairy of their activities as they check travellers and baggage for risk items.
Supporting the community, these four legged hounds are generally rescue dogs, due to their boisterous nature and love of food and play. Dogs usually retire after 7 – 10 years, generally with their handler. On some rare occasions the dogs are available for adoption.
As there are other agencies and organisations that utilise work dogs in an airport environment, Quarantine WA Detector Dogs often come into contact with the Australian Federal Police dogs and assistance dogs.
Quarantine WA also has a Mobile Response Team (MRT) that conduct inspections of items arriving into the various air cargo sheds, such as Star Track, Qantas Freight and Menzies within the airport precinct. The staff are trained to identify various pest and diseases that are not established in Western Australia.
MRT officers also attend the Australia Post location on Boud Avenue to inspect items that have been identified as requiring inspection by a Quarantine WA officer. Should MRT officers identify an item of quarantine risk concern, it may be destroyed, treated or re-exported back to the sender.
In addition to checking plants and plant products, officers also conduct inspections of live animals entering WA by air including livestock, birds, reptiles, fish and marsupials. These animals must meet certain regulated conditions upon entry into WA. There are no restrictions for domestic dogs or cats, but those with long coats should be free from any grass seeds.
In the wider community Quarantine WA provides training to cabin crews (Qantas and Virgin) as well as educational presentations to schools and community groups. More recently, the dogs and their handlers participated in the Qantas Open Day, The Royal Show and allowed the dogs to wear an AFL team scarf during the Grand Final.
If you’re in any doubt whether an item can be brought into the state, approach a quarantine inspector on arrival and declare the items. All passengers walk past at least two quarantine bins on arrival into WA prior to having a detector dog greeting in the luggage claim area.
Remember though, when a detector dog has his jacket on, he’s at work. You’ll have to stop yourself from patting him until he’s finished screening all the passengers and therefore protecting WA and its enviable biosecurity status.
More information about Western Australia’s quarantine regulations is available from www.agric.wa.gov.au/quarantine or contact Quarantine WA on 9334 1800.