U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents working at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) have made a point to recognize the work of agency canines in detecting prohibited items that are carried overseas.

Over a 72-hour period between July 24th and 26th, Customs and Border Protection beagles at LAX intercepted 81 international passengers allegedly carrying prohibited items from overseas, an agency spokesperson said. The interceptions consisted of 76 plants and 26 animal products weighing a total of 104 pounds.

Customs agents say that the highly specialized canines hold the first line of defense against harmful pests and diseases. Every day the dogs detect and intercept foreign threats that can potentially devastate California’s multibillion-dollar agricultural industry, the customs spokesperson said.

“A lot of people relate sniffing dogs to narcotics, but these canines specialize in detecting plants, fruits, vegetables, meat products and all other sorts of prohibited agricultural products,” said Kevin Weeks, director of Field Operations for U.S. Customs and Border Protection in Los Angeles.

Customs and Border Protection has several types of canines which are trained to sniff narcotics, humans, explosives or money.

“These dogs are unique; they are smart, friendly and are extremely effective in accomplishing the CBP mission,” added Weeks.

On a typical day in fiscal year 2008, the agency seized 4,125 prohibited meats, plant materials or animal products, and intercepted 435 agricultural pests at ports of entry.