No machine is as cute as a beagle - that’s one reason Bob Stirling, an experienced dog breeder, chose beagles to keep Australia safe by sniffing out illegal imports of plants, animals or foodstuffs at airports.
Bob managed Australia’s famous Quarantine Detector Dog Programme from its inception, and played a key role designing the programme, recruiting staff and selecting the dogs.
‘Most dogs can be trained to do the job of detection,’ he says. ‘But even people who are afraid of dogs are not afraid of beagles. Beagles are cute, they have a brilliant sense of smell and they are single-minded to the point of stubbornness.’
The Dog Detector Programme has a secure future. Not only are beagles non-threatening to nervous travellers, but they out-perform any mechanical sensor device. The programme has excelled in putting a friendly face on Australia’s quarantine inspection service and enhancing the nation’s ‘clean green’ image.
‘A beagle’s nose will find fruits however unfamiliar or exotic, meats and foods, reptiles and mammals, and insects such as bees,’ says Bob, a public servant who was asked to establish the programme because of his strong personal interest in pedigree dog breeding.
Under Bob’s sound management, the programme has excelled in the areas of national policy development, customer service, public relations and administration.
Bob received the Public Service Medal in 2003 for outstanding public service through the development of the Quarantine Detector Dog Programme and for improving Australia’s quarantine effectiveness. The Medal recognises exceptional contributions by members of Australia’s public services (Commonwealth, State and Territory) and other government employees, including those in local government.