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Woof! Dog squad to sniff out smugglers at Delhi airport soon

Woof! Dog squad to sniff out smugglers at Delhi airport soon

The customs team at present has a Labrador Retriever and is in the process of getting five more canines, three of which will be English Cocker Spaniels.

DELHI Updated: Dec 30, 2017 21:48 IST

Faizan Haidar
Hindustan Times
The customs department at Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International (IGI) Airport will soon be able to sniff contraband out.The customs at Delhi airport will soon get a six-member dog squad to check the smuggling of tobacco, drugs, currency notes and wildlife parts.

The canine squad, like their handlers, will don a blue-coloured uniform on line of customs officials and will be deployed to work in shifts.

The customs team at present has a Labrador Retriever and is in the process of getting five more canines, three of which will be English Cocker Spaniels.

“We have a vacancy for hiring five more dogs and these are being trained at the customs academy. Dogs can be very helpful in detecting smuggling. Delhi airport is primarily on the radar of gold smugglers and dogs can’t detect/smell out gold. The customs will, however, use them to stop smuggling of other items. Cocker Spaniels are being inducted for the first time as they are short and can easily sneak into small openings. Alertness and the sniffing ability of the Cocker Spaniels will be an advantage,” said a customs official.

According to experts, Labradors have an excellent track record as sniffers, but the small size of Cocker Spaniels makes them an ideal choice for larger areas. The Labrador that the customs department has at present is trained at the Border Security Force (BSF) academy and patrols both arrival and departure terminals.

“Animal smuggling will also be one of our focus area as many passengers bring in their pets without declaring them. There have been cases of smuggling of species of monkeys, rabbits and tortoises. Red sandalwood and skin of various animals is also smuggled out of the country. We don’t have a big presence at the departure terminal so the dog squad will help us in nabbing smugglers,” the officer added.

Last year, a dog, hidden inside the bag of a passenger was found at the airport. The owner of the dog in that case later confessed to having given sedatives to the dog for the entire journey.

There were three other similar cases of ‘dog smuggling’ last year.

According to sources, passengers flying in from other countries, who want to travel with their pet, often try and smuggle them in in order to avoid documentation work.

To bring a pet through legal channels, the owner has to obtain a NOC from the animal quarantine station before entering the country. The pet can come either as checked-in baggage or air cargo.

“Every day over 25,000 passengers arrive at Terminal 3 from international destinations and it is impossible to check every one of them. Dog squad will help us there,” a customs official added.