Detector dog digs into Darwin to guard against African swine fever

Senator the Hon. Bridget McKenzie, Minister for Agriculture

Senator Sam McMahon

Australia’s readiness to prevent a disastrous African swine fever outbreak has been strengthened with deployment of a detector dog capable of sniffing out potential threats in Darwin, as part of the Liberal and Nationals Government efforts to guard against a biosecurity breach.

Agriculture Minister Bridget McKenzie and Northern Territory Senator Dr Sam McMahon said Suki-an experienced biosecurity Labrador transferred from Norfolk Island to reinforce prevention measures at Darwin Airport-was helping screen international passengers and cargo arriving from countries where African swine fever was already having a devastating impact.

“African swine fever-potentially the biggest animal disease event the world has ever seen-is moving nearer to Australia and in September reached our near neighbour Timor Leste,” Minister McKenzie said.

“It spreads rapidly and can kill up to 80 per cent of pigs it infects. I’m all about stopping it from reaching our shores.

“It could deal a heavy blow to our $5.3 billion pork industry, as well as the 36,000 jobs that depend on it in rural and regional communities.

“With no vaccine available, it could also harm our $60 billion agricultural industries as a whole, as the security of our world-leading biosecurity system is the key to protecting our international trade reputation as a leading supplier of safe, healthy, high-quality food.”

Senator McMahon, a former vet, said the recent detector dog deployment was a vital part of Australia’s defence against damaging biosecurity threats.

“African swine fever has the potential to kill a quarter of the world’s pig herd by the end of the year so we’ve ramped up inspections at airports and sea ports,” Senator McMahon said.

“That’s why when the risk profile for Darwin changed a detector dog was deployed.

“Suki is an experienced and highly trained detector dog who has found more than 6800 biosecurity risk items in her career including sniffing out 300 meat items just last year.

“The government is doing its part, but we need everyone travelling through our airports and posting packages from overseas to do the right thing and be alert to the serious risks posed by this disease.

“I’d encourage all Australians to talk to family overseas to help them help us all by not sending pork products.”

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