If you've been at O’Hare International Airport in the last few years, you've probably noticed a Beagle or two sniffing around.
They are part of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection “Beagle Brigade” and while they are adorable and cute to look at, the government is counting on them for a crucial job: preventing disease from entering the U.S.
Frodo is an agriculture sniffing dog. He's less than two feet tall and part of a team effort to prevent harmful bugs and foreign animal diseases from making their way into the U.S.
Frodo and his "Beagle Brigade" regularly navigate the luggage carousel area at the international terminal -- sniffing backpacks, luggage and purses, looking for food. His specialty is apples, citrus, mango's beef, and pork -- items that may have been brought in illegally.
"We are trying to prevent insects and plant disease and livestock disease that are brought in on all the leaves plants and fruits and vegetables and meats coming from other countries,” said Jessica Anderson of U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
The Beagles are mostly rescue dogs that undergo a 10-week training period with their handler. Jessica says they're quick learners who love their jobs and only ask for a cookie treat in return.
"When he finds odor, he'll sit down. It's a passive response. If I don't get cookie fast enough he will start howling,” she said.
Frodo is 98 percent accurate. Many times he sniffs out food that even the owners forgot they brought in. So while he's cute to look at and lovable, he's also educating the public and reminding them to declare any food or plant products that they have brought in -- or face hundreds of dollars in fines.
U.S. Customs and Border agents say they try to prevent fining passengers and give them two separate chances to declare any foods or plants brought in to the U.S. before landing. If you don't declare, then you can expect Frodo and the others from the “Beagle Brigade” to call you out.
Frodo is responsible for almost $100,000 worth of seizures.