D/FW AIRPORT - They're small. They're cute. They're crime fighters.
And if you could smell what they smell in the suitcases arriving on international flights to D/FW International Airport, you might detect a whiff of cow brains, bush meat or dead lizards with glass eyeballs.
All items, found by the Beagle Brigade; dogs that patrol the airport for prohibited agricultural items for US Customs and Border Protection.
It's their job to protect the nation's food chain from foreign pests and diseases that could devastate our food supply, like mad cow disease.
Nothing against a foreign delicacy, says Customs, but pests tend to hitchhike in food products from around the world. Customs often finds critters hitch hiking in food products - critters than can turn into moths or other pests.
The agriculture canines that interact with the public are always beagles. Never anything scary like a German Shepherd.
Because they're so cute.
"When people see us, it's not threatening for them," said Bill Pitzer, Customs Canine Supervisor. "They don't feel like we're trying to arrest them because they have an apple."
Pitzer says all the beagles they use are rescue dogs, chosen because they'll work hard for a treat and the affection of their handler.
"That's what they work for, that's their paycheck," Pitzer said.
What do they find most?
Apples and mangos are routine.
More remote is the possibility of bio-terrorism where an enemy intentionally smuggles in a nasty bug to cripple our food chain.
For that, the Beagle Brigade remains always vigilant.