Article By: Pedigree

Snoopy, the great WWI flying-ace, might have been a hero in the sky but it’s on the ground in airports where real-life beagles are performing heroic acts every day.

Known for centuries as excellent hunting companions for their acute sense of smell, beagles are employed by police units around the world as trackers and detectors. Last year alone, the U.S. Transportation Security Administration used over 400 trained dogs to patrol the nation’s airports, and many of them were beagles.

Beagles are also on the job for the U.S. Department of Agriculture as a “first line of defense,” searching and inspecting cargo to prevent contaminated or illegal agricultural produce from entering in the country. The little hounds are preferred by law enforcement agencies in Canada, Japan, New Zealand and China.

Chances are you’ve seen the friendly Beagle Brigade in action—checking luggage, carry-on bags, and shipping boxes—sniffing for narcotics, illegal substances or any harmful materials. Known for its cheerful temperament, the beagle can go about its business in airports without intimidating passengers, unlike shepherds, labradors or other large breeds. Because of their small size, they're also less likely to damage private property during search operations and can negotiate crowded cargo holds easily.

While beagles are barkers, don’t expect them to howl when they make a discovery. The moment they catch a scent, they're trained to quietly take a seat next to the suspicious bag until their handlers give them the okay to take their powerful—and valuable—noses elsewhere.