How Beagles are helping USDA APHIS Strengthen Bio-Security

Lawmakers are looking to strengthen bio-security, with the threat of diseases like High-Path Avian Flu and African Swine Fever. A group of bi-partisan senators just introduced a bill that will give more “bark” to the Beagle Brigade!

The ‘National Detector Dog Training Center Act’ aims to reinforce training for Beagle Brigades, a class of dogs that inspects cargo to detect animal pests and diseases.

Iowa senator Joni Ernst says the legislation would streamline funding.

“This bill which out we will use to support our Beagle Brigade, actually will consist of appropriating funds from the federal government to this program. Right now, the Beagle Brigade funding it is done through user fees. And we know that those can go up and down through the course of a number of years. So, what we want is steady, consistent funding to protect our agricultural sector.”

Ernst says she hears from farmers every day that biosecurity it a top concern.

“We did just have a case of Highly-Pathogenic Avian Flu, Influenza and we know that is in Iowa, and we have also heard that there are cases of African Swine Fever in Haiti and the Dominican Republic. So, these are sources that are very close to home for us and we know how important it is to protect our ag resources.”

The legislation builds on past efforts to support border security including the 2019 ‘Protecting America’s Food and Agriculture Act’ which increased the number of inspectors and canine teams.

“It is a continual process where we find there might be gaps that exist within biosecurity and continuing to build on that. So, what we have seen, of course, we want to put every measure in place that we can, but we have found a gap again, the funding is not as consistent with this detector dog program or Beagle Brigade. And this is one way to shore up a gap that currently exists in protecting our agricultural sector.”

The bill is co-sponsored by Georgia democrat Raphael Warnock.

“We do have the National Detector Dog Training Center, located in Newnan, Georgia, and we do think that we have a path forward on this bill, not only because it is bipartisan, but it’s also the right thing to do.”

In addition to beagles for the border, the center also trains Jack Russell Terriers and Labradors to detect invasive species and pests that are already in the country.

According to USDA, 75 percent of the dogs complete their training and go on to protect the country. The other 25 percent go up for adoption to become great family pets. You can learn more at


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