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TAS Country : March 31st 2011
16 Friday, Ap Feature Tasmanian Quarantine Service SHIP-SHAPE: Quarantine Officer detection handle THE PEEL DEAL: Quarantine officers Craig Boucher, right, and Roger Gaby inspect imported mandarins at the Costa Group freight terminal at Spreyton. land THIS Karolin MacGregor VAN GUARD: Handler Lance Parremore and Layla ATTENTION TO DETAIL: Quarantine officers and dogs on the job at Spreyton, left, and the Spirit of Tasmania in Devonport. They may be cute, but Quarantine Tasmania's team of sniffer dogs also play a vital role in protecting the state from unwanted pests and diseases. Ano for t busi Ano for t busi EARLY in the morning, when most people are still in bed, sniffer dogs and their handlers are already hard at work on the quarantine front line at the state's ports and airports. For many visitors, seeing sniffer dogs is a novel experience at the start of their Tasmanian holiday, but the highly trained dogs are crucial for maintaining Tasmania's border protection, in particular its freedom from fruit fly status. One of the key entry points where sniffer dogs are a vital part of the quarantine service is at the Devonport port, where each day hundreds of passengers and vehicles are inspected at the Spirit of Tasmania terminal. Rhonda Hall is co-ordinator of Quarantine Tasmania's sniffer dog program and has been working with and training sniffer dogs since 2000. The program has six handlers and eight trained dogs working at entry points around the state. Ms Hall said while most people were aware of the dogs' work at airports and the Spirit of Tasmania, many did not realise the dogs were also used to check incoming mail and freight. ''A lot of the work we do is behind the scenes with things like freight and mail,'' she said. ''It's a really important part of what we do, especially these days because people have access to things like eBay and can buy stuff from overseas and get it mailed to them and they may not realise it's actually a quarantine risk.'' All the dogs in the program have either been rescued from animal shelters or donated to the program by families who could not provide a suitable home for them. ''Most of them you would describe as naughty or probably delinquents,'' Ms Hall said. ''They're normally dogs that are very active and just really needed a job to do, so they don't fit in with the normal backyard environment.'' She said that by harnessing the dogs' enthusiasm and natural willingness to please, after an intense training course many former owners didn't recognise the animals.
March 24th 2011
April 7th 2011