Man’s best friend has long been a trusted hand on the farm or ranch, but did you know that a group of lovable canines also work hard every day at the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, FDACS, to protect the Sunshine State’s $120-billion dollar industry? Five different dogs utilize their sensitive noses and expert training to detect invasive pests and diseases that could threaten a variety of Agriculture Industry sectors in Florida. Even more interesting is the fact that each dog is a rescue.
There is Audi, a five year-old Labrador Retriever rescue mix who patrols “parcel facilities in Orlando, Tampa and Miami,” according to FDACS. Audi once stopped olive branches from California infected with larvae of the damaging Olive fruit fly. Next is Bear, a four year-old rescue Lab mix that detects giant African land snails; the large snails threaten plants important to the Agriculture Industry and in nature and humans alike. Another rescue Lab Retriever mix is six year-old Kojak, who sniffs for invasive species, pests and “unauthorized plant material.” Kojak has detected live whitefly pupa and crushed whitefly adults.
Three year-old Sierra is a rescue Chocolate Lab who joins Bear in looking for giant African land snails. Lastly, is Verde, a seven year-old Labrador Retriever who was found “abandoned and in ill health.” Upon recovering, Verde patrols postal facilities for invasive pests and diseases; she once detected the prohibited, non-native and invasive water lettuce. These dogs have been given a second lease on life, and they are repaying the favor by keeping Florida Agriculture safe.