Detector dogs protect California’s food supply and natural resources

The California Agriculture Detector Dog Team Program was developed to serve as an additional line of defense in preventing the introduction of harmful plant pests into the State of California via privately-shipped parcels (FedEx, US Postal Service, UPS, etc.).

Statewide pest detection efforts by human inspectors are enhanced by using detector dogs at parcel facilities. Dogs are able to efficiently and effectively detect parcels containing agricultural material which are then subject to inspection for pests. Without the use of detector dogs, significant agricultural pests could go undetected in parcels and could subsequently become established in California.

Each dog in the program has been rescued through animal shelters, breed rescue groups, newspaper/internet ads, etc. The dogs have been screened for high food drive, sociability, intelligence, physical soundness, and low anxiety levels.

Without supplemental inspection of incoming parcels by detector dogs, California businesses could experience significant revenue losses due to direct damage to, and decreased sales of, agricultural commodities affected by harmful plant pests such as citrus, grapes, and nursery stock.

The program currently consists of 13 dog teams in nine counties; Alameda (one team), Contra Costa County (two teams), Fresno (one team), Los Angeles (two teams), Sacramento (one team), San Bernardino (two teams), San Diego (two teams), San Joaquin (one team) and Santa Clara County (one team). The teams travel to neighboring counties to cover additional areas.

The program is a cooperative effort between the United States Department of Agriculture, the California Department of Food and Agriculture and the County Agricultural Commissioner’s and Sealers Association. For more information, please visit the program’s web page

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2 Responses to Detector dogs protect California’s food supply and natural resources

  1. Rebecca says:

    How does one become involved as a detector dog handler/trainer?
    I live in the San Francisco Bay Area and have been training animals (dogs, marine mammals) for tasks for years. I am particularly passionate about working with/training dogs for wildlife conservation like the work that’s done in airports. Thank you. crimsoneptune@gmail.com

    • Office of Public Affairs says:

      Thank you for your question. We have passed it along to our Pest Exclusion branch for consideration.

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