HOUSTON - U.S. Customs and Border Protection employees at George Bush Intercontinental Airport said farewell and many happy returns to their colleague, K9 Sonny.
Sonny, a six-year veteran with CBP’s Beagle Brigade, will retire from service today.
The 9-year-old Beagle served alongside his partner for the last six years and is a graduate of the U.S. Department of Agriculture National Detector Dog Training Center in Newnan, Ga. At the 10-week academy, Sonny received specialized training to detect plants and animal products which may be concealed in checked luggage and carry-on items.
“It is always bittersweet to watch one of your teammates retire,” said CBP Port Director Charles G. Perez. “Sonny has had an incredible career with CBP. His partner and the rest of the team will miss seeing him in action.”
Since 2015, Sonny has encountered more than 740,000 passengers and was responsible for over 3381 seizures of harmful prohibited or restricted agriculture items.
The Beagle Brigade was established in 1984 when USDA placed a beagle into service at Los Angeles International Airport. Beagles and beagle mixes are the preferred breed for agriculture K9 because of their keen sense of smell, non-threatening size, high-food drive and gentle disposition.
Canine candidates that are selected for training are obtained from animal shelters, humane societies and rescue leagues. Dogs meeting the entrance qualifications also are taken as donations from private owners. The special role of the agriculture detector dog program in protecting American agriculture. Agriculture canine teams have conducted thousands of demonstrations at schools, fairs and other events.
After today’s shift which began at 6 a.m., Sonny is going home to a new family where he will be allowed to sleep in.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection is the unified border agency within the Department of Homeland Security charged with the management, control and protection of our nation's borders at and between the official ports of entry. CBP is charged with keeping terrorists and terrorist weapons out of the country while enforcing hundreds of U.S. laws.