African Swine Fever, or ASF, has been spreading rapidly across Asia and Europe. And while there has yet to be a reported case in Canada, the government is putting forth preparatory measures to keep it that way.
As part of those measures is an increase in detector dogs that will be present at airports across the country.
TL;DR As African Swine Fever continues to spread in Asia and Europe, Canada's Agriculture Minister has injected $31 million to have more detector dog teams present in more of Canada's airports.
The Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, Marie-Claude Bibeau, announced yesterday that she would be injecting $31 million in funds for more detector dog teams at Canadian airports.
If my math is correct, there are currently 15 Food, Plant and Animal Detector Dog Service teams in Canada and the increase funds would allow the addition of 24 new teams, bringing the number up to 39 teams across the country.
The Honourable Marie-Claude Bibeau, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, announces that Canada will host the first international forum on African swine fever. https://t.co/2VMDyIjVtj— CFIA Canada (@CFIA_Canada) March 14, 2019
These dog detector teams are different from those teams that are used to sniff out other illicit substances like narcotics.
These dogs focus on finding illegally imported meat and meat products, which can be infected with ASF and actually presents the greatest threat to spreading the disease into Canada.
To continue the fight against the spread of this disease, Canada is also hosting an International ASF Forum in Ottawa at the end of April. Leaders from the States, Mexico, the EU as well as the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN and the World Org for Animal Health will be present and ready to discuss cooperative measures to stop the spread of ASF.
As new detector dog teams are being unrolled, the current teams have been dispatched to key international airports to "better focus on passengers and goods coming from high-risk areas."
As it stands, passengers attempting to enter Canad with pork or pork products (or any undeclared meat products, really) will face a $1,300 penalty.
The Canadian Food Inspection Agency is also working with provincial partners so that more labs are able to test of ASF as well as engaging with other countries to better understand the disease, how it spreads and how to contain it.