This Very Good Dog Is Defending America Against African Swine Fever
An airport detector dog named Hardy sniffed out a roasted pig's head in a traveler's bag at Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson International airport this month.
Credit: Department of Homeland Security’s U.S. Customs and Border Protection

Coming across a roasted pig's head sounds like a dog's dream, but when a beagle named Hardy sniffed out this item in an airport traveler's bag, it was just another day at the office.

Hardy was trained as a detector dog by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), and is part of the "Beagle Brigade," a team of detector dogs that work with Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to search for prohibited agricultural products at U.S. airports or other ports of entry, the agency said in a statement released today (Oct. 22).

Hardy sniffed out the pig's head in the bag of a traveler from Ecuador at Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International airport on Oct. 11, the AP reported.

The work of Hardy and other canines in the Beagle Brigade helps prevent the spread of foreign pests and diseases into the United States, which could threated U.S. agricultural products, the USDA said. In particular, the USDA is working to prevent African swine fever, a disease that affects pigs, from spreading into the U.S. 

Hardy's official photo as a member of the "Beagle Brigade."
Hardy's official photo as a member of the "Beagle Brigade."
Credit: Department of Homeland Security’s U.S. Customs and Border Protection

African swine fever is a deadly disease for pigs that has been found in countries around the world, including sub-Saharan Africa, China and Europe. There is no treatment or vaccine for the illness.

"Recently, our collaboration with CBP proved successful when a USDA trained detector dog intercepted a roasted pig head in traveler baggage from Ecuador," Sonny Perdue, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, said in the statement. "The quick work of a beagle and the CBP staff prevented a potential animal health issue and further highlighted the need to be vigilant in safeguarding the U.S. against foreign animal diseases."

The 2-pound (1 kilogram) pig's head was seized and destroyed, the AP said. It's unclear if the pork was infected with African swine fever.

Originally published on Live Science.