In Noumea, three new biosafety officers have just been trained in the detection of health risk products. These are three dogs that have joined Sivap, the veterinary and food inspection service. If the canine brigade has existed for a long time, this is the first time that these sniffer dogs have been recruited locally.
Neo, Taz and Summer, these are the names of the three new Sivap recruits. Former residents of Spanc, these animals were trained in the detection of health risk products at the Nouméa postal sorting centre.
Previously, sniffer dogs arrived from Australia at a cost of one and a half million francs each. Today it is at Spanc, the animal protection society of New Caledonia, that dog handlers will recruit their future agents. Animals between four and six months old are identified, tested and trained in New Caledonia.
“The most important thing is to highlight the skills of our teams at Sivap, which are ultimately little known to Caledonians. I think that’s important. These dogs whose potential we didn’t imagine at the beginning are revealed very good companions for our agents, they are well trained and very effective in the field.” eexplains Isabelle Champmoreau, vice president of the government responsible for animal welfare.
This experience constitutes a second chance for these four-legged companions who will become a precious help for the agents of the biosecurity pole. The biosecurity manager at Tontouta airport for Sivap, Nicolas Fijalkowski, explains that learning the dog goes through play and reward, and that his work must always have a playful connotation. “Today we are creating targets, real ones, false ones, and we are going to put products in them which are prohibited from entering New Caledonia. The goal is that, if a prohibited product passes in front of the dog’s nose, the dog sits down, passive response, and then gets his reward from the master.”
It is estimated that the detection work of a single dog is equivalent to that of about thirty men. Their research session lasts about twenty minutes always followed by a rest period. “We work every day that the postal sorting center works, that is to say that from Monday to Friday we check the packages. The dog climbs on the carpet and sniffs the packages to identify those which contain products with a health risk. for New Caledonia We are thinking of sausage, ham, cheese, or seeds, plant material that could be a vector of diseases such as swine fever or GMOs (Genetically modified organism editor’s note)a whole bunch of things that we are free from in the territory.” precise Loïc Chambriard, responsible for biosecurity inspection at the maritime borders of New Caledonia.
Neo, Taz and Summer learned real skills. Thanks to their extremely sensitive olfactory abilities, they now detect an average of a thousand suspicious packages at the sorting center each year.
The report by Laurence Pourtau and Carawiane Carawiane: