To protect against possible crop contamination from the interstate and international shipping of fruits, vegetables and plants, tight controls have been established among trading partners for product inspection and certification. But for those who do not follow the rules, California has K9 detectors on the front-line, and Sacramento County has a new pup on the block.
Like most of the Agricultural Detector K9’s in California, “Kernul” was rescued from an animal shelter and given a very important job: to protect the California economy and environment from devastating agricultural pests.
King’s first task was to attend a 10-week course at the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Detector Dog Training Center, where she was matched up with Kernul, who was certified through AKC Canine Partners as a “Canine Good Citizen.”
“Kernul had a personality that was very sweet and sensitive, and possessed a very strong drive for treats,’ said King. “He was a perfect match for me, and together we excelled at everything we were challenged with.”
When the team returned to Sacramento at the beginning of November 2019, they began their on-the-job training. Kernul’s first few months were spent memorizing the scents of target items such as nursery plants, flowers, bulbs, seeds, roots and a large variety of fruits and vegetables. Michelle worked on strengthened relationships with parcel shipping facilities and strategized the best places to intercept contraband.
The two are now an expert team; one of 13 Agricultural Detector K9 pairs in California. Almost daily, the unit discovers unmarked packages containing non-native pests and diseases, harmful to our environment and agricultural systems. The good news is that Kernul has a nose for this type of work! When he’s not working, he likes to snuggle, swim, jog and play ball.