ATLANTA (CBS46) -- Four brand new detector dogs met with friends and the media Thursday morning before reporting to work at two of the countries' busiest airports.
Three of the beagles are headed to Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. The other dog will be stationed at Chicago O’Hare.
For weeks they've been at a USDA facility in Newnan training to sniff out dangerous agriculture.
“When they come here, they learn five basic odors,” said Training Specialist Joe Chopko. “Apple, citrus, mango, beef and pork.”
The dogs ran a few drills for the media, sniffing out banned items hidden in suitcases.
“When a beagle is working, it's like they're hunting,” Chopko said. “So, you’re tapping into that natural instinct.”
Beagles are the preferred breed for the job because of their keen sense of smell.
“It's essential that the dogs are trained on pork because pork carries so many diseases that can be harmful.”
The dogs will help keep deadly illnesses, like mad cow and foot-and-mouth disease, out of the country.
“He's crazy smart. He's very smart. He's very serious.”
Handler Marguerite Stetson is paired with Chaze.
“We've been together for 10 weeks,” she said.
A strong bond makes a successful team.
“It's an extra set of motivation for me,” she said. “It's not like I have a bad Monday or something and I don't' want to work. I've got someone who's waiting for me because he's always ready.”
With their new jobs, the dogs are getting a second chance at life. Every dog in the class is from a shelter.
We're able to take that high drive and energy and harness it and give them a job to do,” Chopko said.