The US Airforwarders Association (AfA) has proposed that private companies’ sniffer dogs are used for pre-airport screening to the US legislative body, the House of Representatives.
At the present time, the US government’s Transportation Security Administration (TSA) only permits the use of its own dogs for screening, and only at airport facilities. On 24 June, AfA board member and president of Los Angeles (US) based freight forwarder Commodity Forwarders, Chris Connell, testified on behalf of the association that the government should authorise private companies to use dogs, trained and certified to government standards, to screen at air cargo facilities. He says: “I am here to state it is our belief that privatised canines can be a potentially valuable part of this multi-layer approach – another important tool in the toolbox, if you will – that also includes a range of other technology solutions and government-trained canines for our members to utilise to meet screening requirements.”
Connell points out that as the TSA only permits the use of its own dogs, which are limited in number, and only at the airport, the animals are shared with airline freight facilities only as time and availability permit. The dogs spend a lot of time at the passenger terminals.
Three quarters of respondents to a survey conducted by the AfA of its members stated that they would, “strongly consider” using private company sniffer dogs.
AfA executive director, Brandon Fried, says that the organisation feels private companies should be certified to train dogs to TSA specifications and make them available to forwarders who operate off-airport certified screening facilities, because of this shortage.
He adds: “For some of our members, dogs are a good option because they can screen full pallets, which none of the certified technology options is able to do, and some forwarders who specialise in perishables are interested in using dogs because they can help expedite cargo through screening.”