Extend use of sniffer dogs say US forwarders

THE US Airforwarders Association (AfA) has urged a congressional panel in Washington to allow privately trained dogs to screen air cargo at off-airport facilities in the US.
Appearing before the US House of Representatives’ Homeland Security Subcommittee on Transportation Security, AfA board member Chris Connell urged TSA to finalise its efforts to develop a programme for private companies to use their own dogs, certified to TSA standards, to meet federal air cargo screening mandates.
Currently, TSA permits the use of only its dogs in cargo screening, and only at on-airport facilities.
Connell, who is President of Commodity Forwarders, a Los Angeles-based freight forwarding company specialising in perishable products, said that the move will help broaden the security options for freight forwarders who operate off-airport Certified Cargo Screening Facilities (CCSF), which are supervised by TSA.
"We are not saying that privatized canines are a magic bullet when it comes to screening cargo, but they are a potentially valuable part of this multilayer approach – another important tool in the toolbox, if you will – that includes a range of other technology solutions that our members can use to meet their screening requirements," Connell said.
The use of such dogs for air cargo security varies around the world. Earlier this month, the UK withdrew certification for sniffer dogs to be used as part of the Remote Explosive Scent Tracing (REST) analysis.
Sniffer or explosive detection dogs (EDD) are currently still in use at a number of other European Union states.
Connell added:  "Time is money in our business. And right now our company believes that we could save over a million dollars a year at our LAX facility if we had access to a third party solution deploying canines. And of course our customers would highly appreciate the time savings that this solution would help us achieve."
Connell also noted that use of specially trained dogs is one of several methods for screening air freight that are identified in the 9/11 Commission Recommendations Act that was passed by Congress in 2007.

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