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April 27, 2024 48 mins

If you've ever been to an international airport, you've probably seen one of the keenest spotters of illegal contraband - The Beagle Brigade! These cute dogs aren't after drugs or bombs, they're carefully trained to sniff out agricultural products. Learn all about this furry group of crime stoppers in this classic episode.

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Speaker 1 (00:01):
How to everyone. It's Chuck here on Saturday. I thought
I would brighten everybody's day with this selection from June thirteenth,
twenty seventeen. How the Beagle Brigade works. Oh boy, just
get ready for cute overload. Welcome to Stuff you Should Know,

a production of iHeartRadio.

Speaker 2 (00:29):
Hey, and welcome to the podcast. I'm Josh close Ark,
There's Charles w Chuck Bryant, Jerry Jerum Rowland's over there.
So this is Stuff you should know, the Beagle Brigade edition.

Speaker 1 (00:44):
Yes, another I guess we covered drug sniffers, yeah, but
not or did we do Seeing Eye Dogs as well?

Speaker 2 (00:57):
We did, remember, because Seeing Eye Dogs is actually your
brand name. It's one of those oh like a band aid, yeah,
Kleenex or something. That one was that was a great one.

Speaker 1 (01:08):
Yeah. So I mean, is this the last job that
dogs have?

Speaker 2 (01:12):
And we we didn't cover dogs that serve as pack animals.

Speaker 1 (01:16):
Yet, so oh that's right, yeah, like herders.

Speaker 2 (01:19):
Yeah, that'd be good. Are lumberjack dogs.

Speaker 1 (01:22):
Oh that's true, that's right. Or dogs that are sous chefs.

Speaker 2 (01:28):
Right. So yeah, we've got a big, big long suite coming.

Speaker 1 (01:31):
I thought it was done.

Speaker 2 (01:32):
Sorry, no, no, but this one might be the most
adorable of all of them.

Speaker 1 (01:37):
Yeah, and this one was. I was always confused. I
always thought the beagles at the airport because as you
will learn, Atlanta is they're they're trained here outside of Atlanta.
But I thought that that the beagles were. I just
thought they were drug sniffers, really did everything sniffers.

Speaker 2 (01:58):
Oh I see. No, you could have a big old
suitcase full of cocaine and walk right past that.

Speaker 1 (02:04):
Dog and be like, well, that's good to know, you know.

Speaker 2 (02:07):
Sure for the next time you're smuggling cocaine suitcase. Yeah,
once you make a past a beagle, you're home free.

Speaker 1 (02:14):
But don't have a head of lettuce.

Speaker 2 (02:17):
No, because those beagles will pounce on your neck and
chew your throat out. Or don't have that train to do.

Speaker 1 (02:23):
Don't have a whole hog. Can you believe that story?

Speaker 2 (02:28):

Speaker 1 (02:29):
So this one was, uh, I think it was in
Atlanta at Hartsfield Jackson Airport.

Speaker 2 (02:36):

Speaker 1 (02:36):
And there was a woman traveling from Peru to the
United States with a roasted pig, an entire roasted pig
in her bag, and I mean it was very sweet.
You know, she was just trying to bring home a
holiday meal for her family.

Speaker 2 (02:53):
Yeah, it was Thanksgiving, I think right.

Speaker 1 (02:55):
Yeah, she smuggled in a roasted pig. Yeah, and it
was a little little you know, it was big.

Speaker 2 (03:01):
Well, they have pigs tend to be. I mean, it
didn't say a suckling pig, A pig. I assumed it
was a big old pig.

Speaker 1 (03:08):
No, it was a picture of it.

Speaker 2 (03:09):
Oh yeah, that's right, but it was. It was a
good sized pig.

Speaker 1 (03:12):
Yeah. The guy Rob Brisley, public affairs officer, said the
right steps had to be taken to confiscate and destroy
the item, and then the Senate stopped. But I imagine
he said, with our.

Speaker 2 (03:23):
Mouths right, with extreme vengeance.

Speaker 1 (03:28):
So anyway, I mean that's just one example.

Speaker 2 (03:31):
Yeah, we should we should probably say exactly what we're
talking about for those people who haven't been to an
international airport in the United States. But there is a
group of working dogs that are exclusively beagles, hence the
name the Beagle Brigade from what I understand, although I
did see reference that they do use labs sometimes, but
I'm pretty sure it's almost exclusively beagles, if not exclusively beagles.

And these dogs have a job. They're actually federal agents
with the the U. S d A, the Department of Agriculture,
no or not the DEA either, but their federal their
federal agents, and they are their whole job is to
sniff out agricultural products. And the whole point of all

of this is that the US has a pretty extensive
agriculture infrastructure, right, And if something comes through, say that's
a pest, right, like a bug that eats what do
we grow here, cotton, cotton, weavil, but from another country, right,

So a non native pest or non native plant, or
diseased bat, it could wreak havoc not just on our
agriculture system, but if if the wrong kind of thing
comes through, Like there's there's procedures in place for for
food to come in the United States, you supposed to
carry it in your luggage because it has to be inspected,

it has to come from a trusted source. We have
to know that it doesn't have something like hoof and
mouth disease or ebola or something like that. Right.

Speaker 1 (05:13):
Yeah, I mean it says in here in our own
article that it's a one trillion dollar industry, our own
agricultural agricultural product industry, right, And that's import, export, eating it,
producing it. An invasive species can be one hundred. It
says about one hundred and thirty six billion dollars in

agricultural lost revenue? Is that annually? I believe so, man, So,
I mean, that's that's a lot of economy at stake here,
So they take it very seriously.

Speaker 2 (05:45):
Right, So there's this group, So the USTA, the Department
of Agriculture here in the US has a subgroup called APHIS,
which is the Animal, Plant, Animal and Plant Health Inspection
serve this and they're the ones who are tasked with
basically creating this virtual border, this virtual barrier to stuff

coming in the US to protect agriculture in the US.

Speaker 1 (06:12):
Right, Yeah, like the notorious Romanian cotton weavil.

Speaker 2 (06:17):
Right exactly the most insidious of all, and specifically at
international airports, working in conjunction with the Customs Bureau CPB
Customs and no CBP, right, customs and border patrol. You've
got these cute, adorable little beagles who are trained to
sniff this stuff out from people who are trying to

smuggle whole pigs into the into the country when they're
not supposed to.

Speaker 1 (06:43):
God bless that lady. I felt bad for you know, Yeah,
I mean I get it, sure, but you know.

Speaker 2 (06:51):
I mean, there's no way she did not cry when
the agriculture inspector took her whole pig She's going to
feed to her family.

Speaker 1 (07:01):
What a waste of food.

Speaker 2 (07:02):
She worked so hard on that chuck.

Speaker 1 (07:04):
I know, it might have been like her favorite family
pig that she was waiting.

Speaker 2 (07:11):
It was babe. Babe gave his life.

Speaker 1 (07:16):
So you want to talk a little bit about these
the history here, because it did not agricultural agriculture dogs
or agricultural detection did not start in the US. It
actually started in Mexico. Yeah, I guess was probably the
early seventies.

Speaker 2 (07:35):
I could not find when it started, but yeah, we
know it's definitely prior to the seventies because based on this,
I guess it was a USDA training manual that was
referencing it. It picks up then in the late seventies
that the USDA started this.

Speaker 1 (07:51):
Yeah, and then up until nineteen eighty three, we used
we use big dogs, you know, like typically and I
think we covered this in a lot of the other
like drug sniffers like German shepherds and labs are certainly good,
but they are labs aren't so intimidating, but German shepherds
can be, even though I love them, I grew up
with them. Sure, a lot of people the side of

a German shepherd coming at them in an airport is
a little scary.

Speaker 2 (08:18):
Yeah. I mean some people have sinophobia, which is a
fear of dogs specifically, in which case even the smallest
dogs going to scare you. But even people who don't
have an actual phobia dogs aren't going to be scared
of certain breeds, and that definitely includes German shepherds for sure.

Speaker 1 (08:34):
So it started in Mexico and then finally in nineteen
eighty four, the USA USDA started at lax Started, which
is probably a pretty good airport to pick for a
pilot program. Yeah, not a airplane pilot program, although I'm
sure they had those. Yeah.

Speaker 2 (08:53):
Did you hear about the King of the Netherlands. Uh.
They found out that he has been secretly undercover moonlighting
as a KLM airline pilot for fun for like the
last like once a week, for like the last twenty something.

Speaker 1 (09:10):
Years, and has been flying.

Speaker 2 (09:11):
Yeah he's Yeah, that's what I'm saying, Like he's been
undercover flying, not as the King of the Netherlands, just
trying to have a life of his own.

Speaker 1 (09:20):
I thought, you meant, like Leo DiCaprio, didn't catch me
if you can. He just pretended to be a pilot.
Oh no, geta and fake checks.

Speaker 2 (09:28):
You're a king, you can't be a pilot.

Speaker 1 (09:30):
Wow. So was he did he come clean or was
he outed?

Speaker 2 (09:34):
I guess he was outed. And he said from time
to time somebody would recognize him, but he'd just have
them kidnapped. Yeah, kidnapped and killed rendered extraordinarily.

Speaker 1 (09:45):
Wow, that's pretty crazy. Yeah, well, good for him. Yeah,
they should just let him fly, you.

Speaker 2 (09:49):
Know, I think, I think so. They're going to work
it out, probably, I hope. So if not, that guy's
one outlet has been taken away from.

Speaker 1 (09:58):
Well, so his pilot PROGRAMM did is maybe failing. But
the pilot program in nineteen eighty four LAX worked great.
And they this is a big deal at the time too.
It was a big change from any kind of detection
programs that they had at the time. I don't know
why it took that long, but because dogs are you know,

obviously well known sniffers to the tune of I mean,
compared to humans, how many millions of old factory nerves
the dogs have.

Speaker 2 (10:30):
I know it varies, so somewhere somewhere in the middle
is the docs and I didn't see the beagles specifically,
but supposedly beagles are about average as far as scenting goes,
which is surprising to me. But the docs and has
one hundred and twenty five million olfactory receptors amazing, and
humans have five million on average.

Speaker 1 (10:51):
And I know the dogs even the size of their
nose can make a difference. So I was a little
surprised they picked beagles. But one of the big reasons
is a the Navy had used them previously to great success.
And be like you said, you know, they're they're little,
they're cute, so they're not going to scare anyone at
the airport. Uh, And they can. They're agile. They're because

they're small, and they can jump around on a conveyor
belt like nobody's business. Yeah, to find that Romanian cotton weavil.

Speaker 2 (11:21):
Right, Sometimes they'll find just enough fruit that they'll make
a little head dress out of it, like Carmen Miranda. Yeah,
nothing cute, that's a a beagel in one of those.

Speaker 1 (11:33):
Well. The other cool thing about the dogs and there
their sniffing abilities is uh, it's like you can't disguise
something like if you if you have of course, uh
I was about to say drugs again. But if you have,
Let's say you want to sneak in that cotton weavil okay,
and you think I'm going to hide in and a
can of coffee. Actually that might be you might not

be able to bring in coffee either, now that I
think about it. I was just trying to think of
something with a strong odor.

Speaker 2 (12:00):
Bottle of perfume.

Speaker 1 (12:01):
Okay. The dog will be able to pick that out
of that perfume, right, will be able to almost geolocate it,
because they don't they don't get confused like we do.

Speaker 2 (12:13):
Yeah, so you know how like a dog can when
you when you watch a dog on a scent, it's
just kind of like sniffing back and forth in the
air as it moves. So what it's doing is it's
basically the same thing with our vision. Right, the information
is getting from one nostril and the other nostril, its
brain is putting together to create basically like a three
D map of where that smell is coming from, just

like the information from one eye compared to the information
coming into our other eye gives us an idea of
like depth, right, or perspective, that kind of thing. So
it's basically the same thing, but with their old factory sense.
And put on top of that is the fact that

they can distinguish sense. Like this article this USDA Manuel said,
when you walk into a kitchen and you smell chili,
you smell chili, right, chili's cooking. Put it all together,
it's chili. That's how you smell. Is the sum of
all the parts.

Speaker 1 (13:12):
Yeah, you know, if you're good, you might be able
to pick out a thing or two.

Speaker 2 (13:15):
Maybe, like you know, like do I detect Yeah, some cuman.
But a dog will walk in there and smell every
single one of the ingredients separately, right, Which is why
you can't just take something and try to overpower the
smell of it with something else. The dog will smell
the thing that you're using to try to overpower it with,
but it'll also smell the other scent. Apparently they can

smell this thing says they can smell table salt in
a dilution of one part to ten million parts.

Speaker 1 (13:47):
That's amazing.

Speaker 2 (13:48):
Isn't that crazy?

Speaker 1 (13:49):
That is crazy. That's also why if you've ever taken
your dog to a new like a new really new
environment that they've never been to, like the beach, for instance,
when I took and I think a couple of years ago,
we did a beach vacation and took our dogs and
they were going crazy, Like we walked them down to
the beach and it was just nose in the air

because you know, there's always a good breeze or usually
a good breeze on the beach, and I can imagine
they were just they were smelling these just hundreds and
hundreds of things that they'd never smelled before. Yeah, And
it's pretty neat to see, and you kind of wonder
what's going on in that lunkhead of theirs, you know,
m in my case, one luckhead and one smart one.

Speaker 2 (14:30):
I've seen before that when a dog is sniffing at
a tree, what you're watching them do is sniff, you know,
the tree itself, but also every single insect in that tree,
every bird in that tree, everything that's in that tree
right then that dog is smelling that.

Speaker 1 (14:45):
Yeah. And I think it definitely varies because obviously some
dogs are better, like hunting dogs and such and my
new dog Nico, we think maybe part plot hound.

Speaker 2 (14:58):
What's that?

Speaker 1 (14:59):
Just like a you know, a hound, Okay, I mean
you can look up plot hound and it looks like
my dog, okay, but like a mix of a plot hound.
But I think that they're like really good scent dogs too,
because she, more so than other dogs I've had, is
really driven by her nose and when you let her out,
she's got her nose to the ground like for quite
a while.

Speaker 2 (15:20):
I was reading today about scent tracking, and apparently it's
something like some people like to do agility stuff with
their dog, or other people do like obedience like competitions
and stuff, and then other people and apparently this also
is a really good thing to do. If you found
your your dog is like no good at obedience, right,
they might actually love scent tracking because unlike the obedience

stuff or the agility stuff, when you're when you're scent tracking,
the dog is totally in charge. You're basically following the dog,
but you're doing it together, especially during training as well.

Speaker 1 (15:55):
Well. You know, they'd say if your dog has behavioral problems,
and a lot of times that means they have a
job that they're not being they're not allowed to do.

Speaker 2 (16:04):
Oh yeah, that makes sense.

Speaker 1 (16:05):
You know, like if you have a herding dog that
doesn't have a herd, then that might be a big
pain in your butt until you can find a way
to kind of let them. I don't know if they
can not necessarily word part time as a herder, but
do something that acts as a herder, you know.

Speaker 2 (16:22):
Might as well make some money off of it.

Speaker 1 (16:25):
You want to take a little break, all right, We're
gonna take a break and get back to the beagles
right after this.

Speaker 2 (16:32):
Fish. All right, Chuck, So we're back. So we were
talking basically about dogs in general, but since nineteen eighty four,

the USDA has been training beagles for its Beagle Brigade, right,
which is this frontline covering America's agricultural infrastructure.

Speaker 1 (17:02):
That is correct.

Speaker 2 (17:04):
So I was very heartened to learn from researching this
that the Beagle Brigade, specifically with the USDA, all of
them come from shelters. They're all shelter animals.

Speaker 1 (17:17):
Yeah, and you know what, it kind of makes sense.
At first, I just thought it was out of the
kindness of their heart that they wouldn't like support the
dog buying industry, but they a lot of times just
get problem dogs, these beagles that are so like, you know,
up in the business in your pantry or your refrigerator,
or sniffing out your shoes so they can chew them up.

People will you know, well, I have opinions on this,
but people will turn that dog back in or whatever
to be adopted, hopefully from a no kill shelter.

Speaker 2 (17:50):
Right. So then that's a big point that this USDA
spokesperson makes in the House to Works article, is like
a lot of people are saying, I'm not quite sure
how I feel about this. You guys are using these
dogs as tools basically, yeah, And I don't know, I
don't think dogs should be used that way. And the

USDA's response is, well, a lot of these dogs would
would basically be put down if it weren't for us,
you know, they would be euthanized because they can't they're
too hyper to live with a family. But that's exactly
the kind of temperament we need for what we're having
them do. So actually it's win win for everybody.

Speaker 1 (18:32):
Well. Yeah, and as much as I love my dogs
laying around in bed with me, a happy dog, it's
a dog that's working and exercising and then at the
end of the night they get to relax. But you know,
it's easy to and we cover some of this and
seeing eye dogs and stuff, it's easy to be like,
oh man, that dog doesn't get to have fun all day,

and that's just not true at all. These dogs have
a purpose and they they're good at what they do.
So don't don't think of it as like using this
dog is a tool in a bad way, you know, right.

Speaker 2 (19:04):
And then on the other end of it, if the
dog is brought into the program and they find out
that the dog doesn't have what it takes, maybe it
doesn't work very well amidst chaos like an airport always has,
or perhaps the the the dog just seems unhappy. They say,

if the dog seems unhappy, they'll retire it early. Yeah.
At any rate, they have apparently a record of adopting
out their beagles, and there's a waitlist right now sure
to adopt these beagles that have worked for you know,
several years, or or didn't work, didn't make it, but

you know, entered into the program. They don't return them
to shelters, they don't euthanize them. They adopt them out
and apparently the USCA has one hundred percent adoption record
on that, which is pretty outstanding.

Speaker 1 (19:57):
Yeah, and as with a lot of service dogs, their
first their handlers given first right of refusal for adoption, right,
which a lot of times they do, so, you know, but.

Speaker 2 (20:09):
Yeah, I would guess so too, because apparently when the
dog and the handler are paired up together as a team,
they stay a team for the dog's whole career.

Speaker 1 (20:22):
It's like like Rigs and Myrtal.

Speaker 2 (20:24):
Right, or Turner and Hooch.

Speaker 1 (20:26):
Actually it's not like Riggs and Myrtal because they were
paired at the very end of Danny Gloverer's career. So
that was a bad announce. Oh that's right, that's true
because he's too old for that crap. Yes, that's a
big line.

Speaker 2 (20:39):
Yeah, that was a great line.

Speaker 1 (20:40):
Isn't that a TV show? Now?

Speaker 2 (20:42):
I don't think it is anymore.

Speaker 1 (20:44):
Jerry's nodding, but that probably means you're both right, short lived.

Speaker 2 (20:49):
I think so. I haven't seen any ads for it lately.

Speaker 1 (20:52):
What a dumb idea, like, hey, let's dust this thing
off for years ago.

Speaker 2 (20:57):
They do that with everything like twin Peaks even, It's like,
how how come on. How are you going to pick
that back up?

Speaker 1 (21:03):
Let's just well, stid of mind that, because that's just
more greatness from David Lynch.

Speaker 2 (21:09):
Is it any good I've heard? Not necessarily.

Speaker 1 (21:11):
I think it's great. I mean it's I mean, I'm
a fan of anything David Lynch does. It doesn't sure,
I didn't expect it to be exactly what Twin Peaks was.
It just feels like a new TV show from David
Lynch to.

Speaker 2 (21:23):
Me, Oh gotcha? Really? Okay?

Speaker 1 (21:26):
You know, yeah, I could be down with that, all right,
So let's get into this. You mentioned handlers.

Speaker 2 (21:33):
We've been dancing around this the whole time.

Speaker 1 (21:35):
You mentioned handlers, and this, like we said earlier, this
takes place at a place called the National Detector Dog
Training Center, the nd DTC, right here in Lovely Noonan, Georgia.
Which is that west?

Speaker 2 (21:53):
I think it's south west, southwest, like just down eighty
five after it splits off a seventy five eighty five.

Speaker 1 (22:00):
Edge of my own home state is pretty poor. If
I haven't camped there, and it's outside of Atlanta, I
probably don't know exactly where it is. I'm pretty sure
I'm right, okay, southwest then let's go with that, okay,
and they start training, Like with most service dogs, they
do that initial testing to just sort of see are
they healthy, do they have the right temperament, how's their behavior?

And that initial screening is where the first lot gets
weeded out. And one of the biggest parts of that
initial weeding out is they have to have a high
food drive. And that's not that doesn't mean how hungry
are they. That means your dog has just been fed.
Those little beagles just eaten, right, they still have a
high desire to get to where the food is.

Speaker 2 (22:44):
It's like bacon, bacon.

Speaker 1 (22:45):
Basically, that's what you're looking for. Yeah, and you make
a lot of noise and you have crowds around and
you just you're testing their focus. And this is all
just the like I said, the initial screening to say,
all right, little Henry the beagle here has.

Speaker 2 (22:59):
What it takes, right, we think, yeah, well, yeah, that's
just a start. Can he also learn to differentiate? That's
the big one. That's the next big step, right, So
I think there's like a one or two week like
evaluation process. They also like give the dog a full
like veterinarian inspection. I believe they spay and or newter

I guess not and or specifically not and or in
that case, or they spay or new to the dog.
A lot of times the dogs come in not very
good shape because they're shelter dogs. Yeah, they probably weren't
taken very good care of early in their life, so
they may need some sort of treatment or checkups or whatever.

But then after that happens, the training actually starts and
the dogs are trained to scent. I guess, starting out
from what I saw five basic restricted sense.

Speaker 1 (23:57):
Yeah, I didn't expect these, would you know?

Speaker 2 (23:59):
It's it's rando.

Speaker 1 (24:02):
Oh is it?

Speaker 2 (24:03):
No? No, it's random.

Speaker 1 (24:05):
Oh I thought they were. I thought there were five sents.

Speaker 2 (24:10):
No, there are, and I'm saying that's a pretty random assemblage.
Oh okay, I got you, man, you'd think after nine
years together.

Speaker 1 (24:17):
But I mean, if you were to have picked five cents,
I probably would have definitely picked beef, pork and citrus.
Those make sense.

Speaker 2 (24:25):
I guess I would have picked like monkey, bat and
probably pig too. Yeah, but I mean those are in
there so well. The monkey and the bat aren't, but beef, pork, citrus,
the mango.

Speaker 1 (24:41):
Yeah, that's where you threw me, what was the other one? Apple?

Speaker 2 (24:45):
Apple? Turn with apple. I didn't even know they grew
apples outside of the United States. He was trying to
smuggle an apple into the US.

Speaker 1 (24:52):
I don't know.

Speaker 2 (24:53):
We got the best ones here, buddy, Just leave them
at home.

Speaker 1 (24:56):
Yeah, I would love to know why those are the
five basic scents, if someone has more information than because
I could not find out.

Speaker 2 (25:03):
I could not either. There's a real dearth of information
on this stuff. I even emailed the Customs and Border
Protection today because I could not, for the life of
me find the name of that first beagle that started
out at lax in nineteen eighty four. Cannot find it anywhere.

Expect that somebody forgot to write it down, so no one.

Speaker 1 (25:27):
Knows you're being tracked now.

Speaker 2 (25:29):
Probably, Oh yeah, I've been looking up like, you know,
restricted items, agriculture and vasive species, stuff like that. I'm
sure I'm on a list, all right.

Speaker 1 (25:38):
So they teach them those well, this is, you know,
towards the end, is when they know those five basic
sense At first, they're just basically teaching them how to
sniff through bags and suitcases and boxes and making sure
they can. You know, they'll throw a they'll throw a
goat's head and a suitcase and send it through in
noonan and you laugh. But one of them found a

coat heead not too long ago, I know. So it happens,
and they just make sure they can do that, and
they eventually and then of course they have to differentiate,
like there's a lot of things that are scented, like
those things that are just fine, like an orange perfume.

Speaker 2 (26:16):
Right. Well, that's another that's gotta be kind of tough
to learn for a dog too, is the difference between
you know, orange scented stuff or things that are made
with like say, orange essence, like a candy or a
lip balm or something like that. Yeah, and an actual
orange because the lipbalmb no problem. Actual orange, you got
a problem.

Speaker 1 (26:36):
That's right. And once they've done this, this is about
a a few months, probably ten to thirteen weeks. And
this is and they're being trained in regular like how
to paw at stuff and alert and sitting responses like
all of this is one big learning period and the

handler's getting trained as well obviously, right. But at the
end of this is when they finally do graduate to
those five basic scents. And I guess see what I
don't get it from the basic sense. Is is it
from those sense that they can smell anything?

Speaker 2 (27:12):
No, that's crazy. That's what I thought too. That's that's
what it implies. Like if you put together apple and
pig and mango, you've got like bat that's not the case,
Like each thing has its own scina. I don't know
if those are like the most commonly smuggled ones. Possibly maybe,
so those are the ones they need to start out with.

Maybe they're the easiest ones. I don't know, but I yeah,
if you put those things together, especially if a dog
smells in layers right and differentiates between sense, it's not
gonna smell the combined center those things. It's gonna smell
each thing. So I'm not sure why those are the
five basic ones. Can't find out. Yeah, well hope this
one was a stone wall. I mean, like we're professional

researchers here, and like we really ran into a wall. Yeah.

Speaker 1 (27:57):
Who would have known that the beagle brigade is what
would throw.

Speaker 2 (28:00):
Us, it would break us.

Speaker 1 (28:02):
Uh. So they've they've learned all these since they've learned
how to alert, they're getting treats or getting positive reinforcement
along the way.

Speaker 2 (28:10):
Yeah, that's a big one too. The entire training is
strictly positive reinforcement.

Speaker 1 (28:14):
Yeah, they don't beat these dogs down if they're not
smelling correctly.

Speaker 2 (28:18):
They have like they spend ten grand a month on
newspapers to roll up teach these dogs lessons.

Speaker 1 (28:24):
The puppy bounder. So once they've once they've gone through
all of that, everyone knows I'm joking, right.

Speaker 2 (28:34):
Yeah, okay, and if you're new to the podcast and
don't just don't even bother emailing.

Speaker 1 (28:38):
Yeah, we're great animal lovers here. So once they've they've
gone through this whole training process, they finally graduate. They
get their little diploma, their little hat and their little robe,
and they graduate from Noonan and they get to move
to the big city with the Atlanta or anywhere any
international airport, but Atlanta certainly has a large one for sure.

Speaker 2 (29:00):
And so once they get to their home base airport
that they're going to be working at, they're still evaluated
and trained for another sometimes ten to thirteen weeks.

Speaker 1 (29:12):
Yeah, training is kind of ongoing from what I saw too,
like the whole career, you know.

Speaker 2 (29:16):
Yeah, it's not like the okay, stop learning dog. Yeah,
you know too much. But I think the initial training period.
They're basic training still can go on for another ten
to thirteen weeks after they get to the airport, and
even once they get to the airport, that doesn't necessarily
mean that they're going to stay in the program again.

Once they're finally introduced to the chaos of an international airport,
that dog might just be like, this is not for me.
Send me back to noonan.

Speaker 1 (29:49):
Yeah you know, I mean, you can try and duplicate
that chaos in nounan, but yeah, good luck.

Speaker 2 (29:55):
You just can't. I mean, even you just can't. There's
nothing like a busy airport. You can't recreate that. Yeah,
so some dogs are fine with it, some dogs are not.
But again, one of the main reasons why they're choosing
beagles is because it is so chaotic, and these dogs
are their whole thing is they're not there at like
a male processing facility. They're not there at like a

border crossing. They're there at a busy airport, and they're
they're meant to be able to kind of weave in
and out of this the crowd while also being non
threatening and also being lovable too. Like that's not by
accident that they chose these incredibly adorable dogs. The USDA
says that the Beagle Brigade is basically like a walking,

lovable advertisement for what they're trying to do, which is
protect agriculture here in the US.

Speaker 1 (30:42):
Yeah, they have a little vest, it says Beagle Brigade. Yeah,
and everyone oohs and ahs and some people. If you're not,
this is probably how they do it. If you're not
actively ooing and eyeing, and you're standing there sweating heavily,
then the dog keys in on you. So I'd be
in big trouble.

Speaker 2 (30:58):
And I don't know if you said it. If you did,
I didn't catch it. But the dogs are trained to
walk up to locate a contraband item and sit at
a bag.

Speaker 1 (31:11):
Yeah, yeah they I thought they attacked the person first.

Speaker 2 (31:14):
It's called the passive indicating Yeah, but rather than I
saw in this article it says they pawed it. Everywhere
else I saw that they just sit and kind of
look at the person like shame on you.

Speaker 1 (31:27):
Exactly. It's a very passive aggressive way to out somebody
for a goat's head in their two case.

Speaker 2 (31:32):
Right, So we want to oh, yeah, man, you read
my mind.

Speaker 1 (31:36):
All right, we're gonna do that and we're gonna finish
up here with a big old brigade.

Speaker 2 (31:43):

Speaker 1 (31:57):
All right, So what happens at the end of a
long day, Josh the dog.

Speaker 2 (32:03):
Most beagles enjoy a good pipe, maybe a scotch.

Speaker 1 (32:07):
In an easy chair, perhaps a cigar.

Speaker 2 (32:11):
They sure they tend to watch CNN. I'llough if you
watch Fox News and they fall asleep a little drunk.
That's what they do every night. It's their routine. And
that's what beagles like.

Speaker 1 (32:23):
Oh no, that's our routine at our clubhouse where we live.
I know, weirdly, and this kind of surprised me. I
guess it's not weird now they've seen the explanation, but
I was surprised to learn that they are kindled. I
thought that they thought. I guess I thought they lived
with their handler.

Speaker 2 (32:41):
Yeah, because canine police dogs live with their handler.

Speaker 1 (32:43):

Speaker 2 (32:44):
I thought it was weird too.

Speaker 1 (32:45):
But they're kindled. They have a facility near the airport.
Some people have asked, like, can I just keep this
dog at night and then take them to work every morning?
And they say no, They said this is actually best
for everyone. They need their rest. I imagine they have
a good play together. I doubt if they just like
drive them straight there and put them in the crate,

you know, there's probably a little social scene going on.

Speaker 2 (33:10):
I hope, So, yeah, I hope they don't like get
scolded for making eye contact with the other working dogs
they live with.

Speaker 1 (33:16):
No, they put in their eight hours, they come home,
they probably play a bit, and then they're kinneled overnight. Yeah,
and they said that they you know, they need this
rest time in order to do their job successfully. And
like I said, a happy dog is a dog that
feels good about its work.

Speaker 2 (33:33):
And you said, Chuck, some people ask if they can
take them home. Sure you should specify, like that's not
the agents.

Speaker 1 (33:39):
Asked to like people at the airport, I know.

Speaker 2 (33:42):
Like, can I just take them home for the night
and you guys can come get on tomorrow or all
of them bring them back. I don't only live like
forty five minutes away.

Speaker 1 (33:49):
Yeah, sure that we'll just get you give me your
cell phone number. That sounds great.

Speaker 2 (33:53):
So it does make sense that, yeah, they are left
to just kind of rest and I'm sure that they
actually live at the airport. Which is funny. It's like
that movie Terminal with Tom Hanks.

Speaker 1 (34:04):
It says in nearby facility. You think it's actually there?

Speaker 2 (34:06):
I'm sure.

Speaker 1 (34:07):

Speaker 2 (34:09):
Did you know that that movie Terminal with Tom Hanks
is based on a real life thing? Yeah, and the
guy was like living there for a decade or something
like that. And then Charles de Gaulle, Yeah, did you
see that movie? No, I just read the article of
movies based.

Speaker 1 (34:24):
On Yeah, it's not very good. Unfortunately I got that impression. Yeah,
that was a bummer.

Speaker 2 (34:29):
Oh really it doesn't end well.

Speaker 1 (34:31):
Well, no, it was just a bummer that it wasn't
good because I was like Spielberg and Tom Hanks and sure,
I think my hopes were high, yep, But yeah, I
didn't care for it.

Speaker 2 (34:40):
No, such luck, Charles.

Speaker 1 (34:42):
So the beagle brigade is a very closely guarded secret
just how many beagles are brigading. So they can say
though that there are one hundred and sixteen CBP agricultural
canine teams with the dogs and the handlers, that every
international airport in the country has a beagle brigade there

right doing their job.

Speaker 2 (35:06):
So they can tell you a lot.

Speaker 1 (35:08):
Yeah, I mean you want to tell some stories here.

Speaker 2 (35:11):
Yes, So there was this one dog called Murray. Murray
was he was at a shelter in North Georgia, and
apparently some dummies decided they wanted a hunting dog and
didn't want to spend any money, but they wanted a
doctail and ears and everything. So they tried it themselves

and it didn't go very well for poor Murray. So
they dropped him off at a shelter, probably knowing the state.
They probably dropped him off on a dirt road and
somebody else found him and took him to a shelter,
and Murray was rescued by a group called Alcovy Pet Rescue,
and I guess Alcovy has a direct pipeline to the

Beagle Brigade. Handlers at donn in Noonan said, Hey, we
think we got one for you. This guy is so
food driven it's crazy. It's got a lot of love.
He just needs a little bit of attention. He's missing
part of his ear, but we can get past that.
And at age two or three, he became an agent

for the USDA at Atlanta Hartsfield Jackson International Airport.

Speaker 1 (36:26):
That's great. The only way that story could have ended
better is if those original people had part of their
ear cut off. Yeah by a dog. Yeah, what about Jasper.

Speaker 2 (36:39):
So Jasper he worked at JFK.

Speaker 1 (36:41):
I think, yeah, this was late last year. Jasper retired
after an eight year career, and during this career, Jasper
seized over seventeen thousand items. The goat's head was Jasper,
like I mentioned. Yeah, whale meat, Yeah, whale meat, ainoceros skin,

cooked bat really what else anything else crazy like that?

Speaker 2 (37:09):
No, not that I saw.

Speaker 1 (37:10):
And a lot of Romanian cotton weavils.

Speaker 2 (37:13):
Right, and his handler Amanda Tipple or Triple is it
Tipple or Triple Triple. She said that she was interviewed
with Modern Farmer magazine, which I didn't realize existed until
last week.

Speaker 1 (37:27):
And now you have a subscription.

Speaker 2 (37:28):
Yeah, they did an interview with her, and she was
saying that that he could very easily work longer, but
that the mandatory age of retirement is eight because they
want the dogs to have some years of just chilling out,
not having to work, and that she's going to take
him home. She's adopting him, or she did adopt him.

I think the article was from last year and he
was on the verge of retirement when they interviewed him,
but he went and apparently this is fairly normal. Went
from something like fifteen to thirty hits twenty to thirty
hits a day, wow, but had declined to about ten
to fifteen. Yeah, everybody was very disappointed in him.

Speaker 1 (38:13):
Well, I mean, that's a good retirement age if they're eight, like,
barring some very sad health concern. You know, a dog
that size can live to be you know, thirteen fourteen
years old, right, so many years ahead of them hopefully, Yeah,
in retirement.

Speaker 2 (38:29):
Yeah, and once she takes them home, you know, she
gets another dog that she's going to partner with.

Speaker 1 (38:36):
So I wonder how that'll go over.

Speaker 2 (38:37):
You know, we'll Jasper be like, I know where you've
been today, and I just want to tell you again,
I'm not happy with this.

Speaker 1 (38:45):
Well I bet Jasper. I bet Jasper and all retired
dogs have to deal with that transition, you know. Yeah,
Like I imagine there's something the handlers have to do
with them on a daily basis, like, you know, probably
a lot of long walks. I imagine the dog isn't
just like all right and now I'm gonna rest right now,
like they're used to that activity.

Speaker 2 (39:08):
Well, yeah, yeah, I was wondering that as well. I
wonder too if they get them when they're young, so
they're super hyper, and then maybe by the time they're
eight they've mellowed a little bit. Sure, at least comparatively speaking. Yeah, yeah,
I think a mellow beagle is still pretty hyper compared
to a normal dog.

Speaker 1 (39:26):
I've never been around beagles.

Speaker 2 (39:27):
Actually, Oh, they they'll pull yeah, yeah, and they bay
and everything. They're super cute, but they can be rambunctious
for sure.

Speaker 1 (39:36):
Yeah. I've never known anyone with a beagle, so I
don't even know if I've ever touched a beagle now
that think about it.

Speaker 2 (39:44):
No, but if you've been touched by a beagle, have
you'll never forget it.

Speaker 1 (39:47):
Chuck a couple of stats for you. Last year alone,
in twenty sixteen, the brigade inspected twenty three million passengers,
seven hundred and forty one thousand pieces of freight, and
they alerted to total in the United States to more
than one point seven seven million seizures of illegal materials.

That's a lot. That's about what like seven eight percent
of people bringing stuff in that have been caught.

Speaker 2 (40:14):
Yeah, and I saw also that there is a there's
an even more specialized group of dogs that are typically
jack Russell terriers that work on Guam to root out
specifically brown tree snakes. Yeah, that's crazy, which are an
invasive species that got introduced to Guam and have killed
off like a lot of indigenous bird species, and they're

basically trying to protect Hawaii as much as they can.

Speaker 1 (40:39):
I didn't know Hawaii didn't have snakes until this article.

Speaker 2 (40:42):
Yeah, it's like Ireland over there.

Speaker 1 (40:44):
Yeah, I mean it made sense, of course, but I
just figured, I mean, there's all kinds of invasive species,
so I just thought that I just figured snakes would
be one of them.

Speaker 2 (40:53):
Yeah. No, Hawaii takes their their like the Agriculture Defense
very seriously.

Speaker 1 (40:59):
Yeah. The snake thing is yeah.

Speaker 2 (41:01):
Well they'll just beat you up before they even take
you to jail. They catch you.

Speaker 1 (41:05):
Well, I read an article because I was like, what
is that real? And which is I guess a great
comfort to backcountry exploring and explorers if you're scared of snakes.
But I read an article and there was there there
were a couple of them found last year that you know,
people had managed to sneak in. And one was a

boa constrictor that was dead in the road like five
feet long, and the guy oh Man saw it and said, like,
there's a snake, and everyone in the car was like,
there are no snakes in Hawaii. They're like, no, that's
a snake.

Speaker 2 (41:37):
He's like, oh, I'm just a total idiot. I guess.

Speaker 1 (41:41):
I'm sure their legs under there just a big lizard.

Speaker 2 (41:44):
Hate you guys.

Speaker 1 (41:46):
Yeah, that was that was news to me, so very interesting.

Speaker 2 (41:49):
Supposedly the ever Glades down in Florida have a huge
problem with Burmese pythons and like a couple of different
kinds of pythons that in all of them were pets,
and now they're just taking over and getting to be
like twenty feet long or just crazy. Yeah, eating wild
bores and things like that.

Speaker 1 (42:08):
Because idiots get them and then they grow and they
say this snake is too big, yeah, and they just
put it out in the swamp.

Speaker 2 (42:14):
I just wanted a puppy snake.

Speaker 1 (42:17):
So here's a good example too. Like, you know, it's
easy to like the goat head and the cooked pig
gets a lot of attention, but usually this stuff is
it's not nefarious, you know, It's like this one lady
in February of this year, actually, there was a beagle
named gadget that sees. And this is just one seizure

from one person. A potted tamarin plant, two live trees,
forty two packages of seeds, twenty pieces of palm tree plantings,
chickory seed, rice, millet, and fresh garlic, and.

Speaker 2 (42:52):
A note from God.

Speaker 1 (42:55):
I mean, that's a lot of stuff, but this is
what happens. Like someone goes to another country and they
want to bring back like seeds to plant something. It's
not like they're awful people, but it can. They can
innocently wreak havoc on agriculture here by doing so, you know.

Speaker 2 (43:11):
Right, So the process from what I gather is that
you declare anything you have on you and then if
they can let you bring it through, then they'll let
you bring it through. But if not, they'll just take
it and be like, sorry, we got to take this.
Then they'll shoot it in front of you. If you
don't declare it and they catch you with it. Thanks

to the Beagle Brigade, you can be fined up to
something like one thousand dollars for your first offense. And
if it's clear you're like a straight up smuggler, yeah,
you will probably go to jail.

Speaker 1 (43:45):
Well, this person did declare that had all that stuff
chocolate in an apple, So I guess she thought maybe
if I declare something, I won't be a suspicious I
don't know.

Speaker 2 (43:56):
Right, but I mean, if you're a CBP agent and
you're looking at that, and you have the discretion of
whether to arrest that person or not, you may very
well be like, no, you're you were definitely trying to
smuggle this stuff, So I'm going to make an example
out of you, lady.

Speaker 1 (44:12):
Yeah, And then Gadget's just sitting there just like judging, what.

Speaker 2 (44:15):
Have I done? Yeah, And the lady as they're hauling
her off to jail, she's like, I would have gotten
away with it if it hadn't been for your meddling dogs.

Speaker 1 (44:25):
You got anything else I do?

Speaker 2 (44:26):
I have one more thing. I ran across this article,
I think it was on courts and it said like
bush meat illegal bush meat could be the cause of
the next big global pandemic.

Speaker 1 (44:37):

Speaker 2 (44:37):
There's apparently a major market for bush meat, which is
any wild animal meat. Most people think of it as
like monkey or bat or something like that, but it
also is like elk or caribou, any illegal meat that's
basically just being smuggled around. Yeah, there's huge markets for
it in New York, in London, in Mayland, Europe, and

people just smuggle it in and a lot of them
make it through. And these things just get sold behind
the counter at butcher shops in some cities. And all
that's going to take is one of those things to
have a bola and maybe a mutant strain that is
transmitted a little more easily than a bola light or whatever.

We have now, and you got a pandemic on your
hands and we can say thanks a lot. I hope
you really enjoyed that monkey leg that killed off three
quarters of the population of humanity of Coross.

Speaker 1 (45:38):
That what those two words? I don't like it.

Speaker 2 (45:41):
I know, I know that's pretty rough. So I guess
you're done then too.

Speaker 1 (45:47):
Huh, I'm done, sir.

Speaker 2 (45:48):
Okay, Well, if you guys want to know more about
bush meat or the Beagle Brigade or anything like that,
type those words in the search bar at HowStuffWorks dot com.
And since I said search bar, it's time for listener mail.

Speaker 1 (46:03):
I'm going to call this one sad yet happy email. Hey, guys,
my name is Sam. I wanted to send you an
email thanking you for your show. The podcast is actually
a rediscovery for me. My dad used to play it
back in two thousand and nine when we would drive
up to the mountain to go skiing. Very fond memories

of laughing and nerding out with my dad and brothers
after a great day on the slopes. Can't believe you
guys are still going strong after eight plus years. There
is a little more to my rediscovery of your show, though,
that I wanted to share. It's been four and a
half years since one of my brothers, who was an
amazing skier, died tragically to suicide. Since I was in
college at the time, it didn't have enough time to
properly grieve. Recently, I've been mulling through many painful memories

that I ignored in those first three years. However, your show
unexpectedly brought back really happy ones. It is reminded me
of the fun adventure in learning our family enjoyed while
listening to your show when we are skiing. I remember
laughing hysterically with my family your jokes rolling my eyes
when my brothers and dad would try to comment on
your show to sound smart because it was so creepy.

One of your favorite episodes of ours was the one
on cannibalism. Being a high schooler at the time, I
also really liked the show on flirting, so I thought
I could put it into practice. Needless to say, it
didn't really work. Now what. This month, I went home
for a week to visit my parents, and I went
skiing with my mom and dad, but the first time
since my brother died. It was very painful, but also

unimaginably special. When my family and I are on the mountain,
I feel like I can encounter my brother as he
was when he was healthy and full of life. Could
picture him diving down a slope that was way too
steep with the most enormous grin on his eager face.
All in all, it was a great day. So I
just want to say thank you but the hard work
and providing interesting topics to fill my time, making me laugh,

but also inadvertently helping me cherish a special time in
my life.

Speaker 2 (47:55):
I am that was heavy.

Speaker 1 (47:58):
That is from Sam and sends hugs.

Speaker 2 (48:01):
Sam. That is fantastic. Thank you very much for letting
us know. We appreciate that and our best to your
whole family. Absolutely, if you want to get in touch,
with this like Sam did, you can send us an email.
The Stuff podcast at HowStuffWorks dot Com has always joined
us at our home on the web, Stuff Youshould Know
dot Com.

Speaker 1 (48:22):
Stuff You Should Know is a production of iHeartRadio. For
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