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Scotland's detector dogs stop importation of animal diseases

04 January 2022

The new dog squad will help stop the introduction of exotic animal diseases such as African swine fever and foot and mouth disease

A new dog squad has been specially trained to sniff out products of animal origin (PoAO) in order to prevent them from entering Scotland.

Accompanied by handlers and funded by the Scottish Government, the detector dogs will be based full time at airports, ports and parcel hubs across the country, the Scottish government said in a media release. They will help stop the introduction of exotic animal diseases to Scotland, such as African swine fever and foot and mouth disease.

According to figures from the Border Force North, more than a tonne of PoAO was seized at ports and airports in 2020.

“The Scottish Government and Border Force have worked closely to get the dogs operational in Scotland. Alongside their handlers, they have taken part in a robust training regime and now that they have passed their assessments they can get to work and help us detect PoAO entering Scotland illegally," said Rural Affairs Secretary Mairi Gougeon.

The Scottish government's investment will improve the detection of illegal products of animal origin and reduce the risk of exotic diseases entering the country, she said.

“Monthly seizure data provided by Border Force North helps us ascertain where PoAO originate from and helps us identify periods where seizures are above average," added Gougeon. "We work closely with colleges and universities to ensure that international students studying in Scotland are aware of rules regarding the import of PoAO."

Gougeon reminds travellers that meat and meat products have the potential to carry diseases such as African swine fever, which could devastate the UK pig sector.

“Border Force detector dogs protect the UK from over a tonne of potentially harmful products that could spread disease each year," said Assistant Director for Border Force Scotland Marie Craig. “The deployment of specially trained detector dogs across our ports in Scotland will further improve our ability to protect the public from the importation of exotic diseases."



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