Dogs May Soon Be on the Front Lines in the Fight Against Artifact Smuggling
A project with the University of Pennsylvania is seeking a new tool in an important battle
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February 15, 2018
Moxie in training at the Penn Vet Working Dog Center.
The K-9 Artifact Finders project in action. Moxie is excited to be chosen for the team. Her friends on the project are Roxie, Grizzlie, Pacy, and Scout. Pottery sherd samples were collected and packaged in preparation for training on a scent wheel, which will help the dogs identify target odors. Photos courtesy of Katy Blanchard, Near East Keeper at Penn Museum.
January 28, 2018
Domenic Di Giovanni, Consultant on K-9 Artifact Finders and a retired US Customs Officer, said the following in a recent interview with the Antiquities Coalition about the project:
"I can think of several scenarios where an antiquities canine would greatly enhance the reach of a customs officer's capabilities, when he/she is searching for illicit antiquities shipments.
"At a port of entry air/sea cargo facility, an officer can only physical search so many shipments in any given period of time allotted. If the officer has fifty shipments to examine; that involves opening, inspecting documents and contents, and closing each shipment. If the work could be completed during a work shift, the officer will still need time to consult other officials, do research, and write reports or emails. A trained canine may be able to examine those fifty shipments in a fraction of the time, allowing the officer to concentrate on other types of shipments, or even more shipments from the targeted countries of the original fifty shipments.
"If an airline passenger environment was selected for inspection, an expertly trained canine could possibly inspect hundreds of passengers or their luggage for undeclared antiquities in an amazingly short amount of time. A customs officer could never expect to examine the same amount of passengers or luggage in the time it would take a canine to do it. The officer's ability to inspect passengers and goods, with the aid of a canine, can be executed with minimal effort from the officer and without disruption to the passengers.
"Just imagine what could be accomplished in an export country, where there are hundreds or thousands of passengers, and an untold amount of luggage or cargo to inspect everyday. Utilizing a canine trained to detect antiquities, that were possibly being shipped contrary to law from the Fertile Crescent,(the projects intended focus), would prove to be an invaluable resource for any exporting country.
"In conclusion, a customs officer with the aid of a properly trained antiquities canine would not only increase the amount of antiquities shipments inspected, but would do so with efficiency and the surety that the possibility of missed opportunities was diminished."