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Contact Us:

DFW Lower Base
PO Box 10007
Saipan, MP 96950
Tel: (670) 664-6000/04
Fax: (670) 664-6060

 

Quarantine Officer Mark Pangalinan and Daisy on patrol.

Inspector 2

Dogs can be trained to search for and identify if snakes are on cargo. Much like drug sniffer dogs. Saipan has two dog (K-9) teams consisting of one dog and one handler. Handlers are Quarantine personnel. In the future more dog teams will be added to Saipan and also expansion to Tinian and Rota.

Jack Russell Terriers are the breed used, for several reasons. The dogs have a natural hunting instinct and will readily investigate and enter small cramped spaces. The small size of the dog makes them ideal for placement on boxes or stacked up cargo. The handler can easily pick up the dog to allow it to sniff off ground cargo.

A major problem with training dogs to recognize brown tree snake scent is that there are no brown tree snakes on Saipan (hopefully). For this reason the Division of Fish and Wildlife keeps two live Brown Tree Snakes at the Saipan office. These snakes were captured on Guam and transported to Saipan. Both snakes are male and both have had radio-transmitters surgically implanted. This has been done so that in case of an escape the snakes can be easily found and recaptured. These snakes are also used in presentations to school classes.

The initial training is eight weeks long, after this the dogs are trained once a week with a live snake. The snake (in an escape proof container) is hidden in cargo and the dog searches for and finds it. Our dogs use what is termed a "passive response" when the target odor (the snake) is identified. When the dog identifies the snake scent it narrows down where the snake is and then sits down. This signals to the handler that a snake has been found and the handler then captures/kills the snake. The dogs do not attack and kill the snake. Saipan receives cargo from all over Southeast Asia. It is conceivable that a viper or cobra could be transported. One of these snakes could easily kill the dog and then the handler would still have to capture the snake.