Dogs Sniff out Bird Flu at Airports

Article excerpt

Byline: FIONA MACRAE

SNIFFER dogs have gone on duty at Britain's airports as the first line of defence against bird flu.

They are searching for banned poultry, eggs and feathers being carried in by passengers from Romania and Turkey, where outbreaks have been discovered.

The tightening of Customs checks came as concerns over the Government's lack of preparation for a human bird flu pandemic intensified.

The Tories called for a single minister to take responsibility for coordinating Britain's battle to stop the march of the virus as five European countries waited for the results of bird flu tests.

GPs also sounded a warning, claiming they were ill-prepared to reassure panicking patients.

Yesterday at Heathrow's Terminal Three arrivals hall, Jasper, a threeyearold Labrador, was being used to check baggage brought in on a flight from Istanbul.

There are three dogs at Heathrow, three at Gatwick and two at Manchester Airport.

Chris Pratt, the Products of Animal Origin Manager for Customs at Heathrow, said: 'The risk is minimal, but what we've been asked to look out for specifically is dead or live birds, feathers and eggs. We're looking for these things being imported in personal luggage.

'We would normally cover these flights anyway but due to the outbreak of the influenza we've been asked to heighten our controls. …