Vespa, a six-year-old black Labrador Retriever, was honoured with The Australasian Animal Registry Service Dog Award at this year’s Sydney Royal Easter Show.

The honour was bestowed on Sydney-based Vespa for intercepting 1,300 biosecurity risk items across 129 commodities in 2023, the most of any biosecurity detector dog in the country.

Adam Fennessy PSM, Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry Secretary, congratulated both Vespa and his handler Perrie on receiving the award at the Royal Agricultural Society of NSW’s Canine Hero Awards at the 2024 Sydney Royal Easter Show.

“It takes a special type of person to train and work with our detector dogs, and Perrie and Vespa have displayed exemplary dedication to keeping Australia free from exotic pests and diseases.

“The 2024 Service Dog Award is also a wonderful acknowledgement of the dedication of our biosecurity detector dog teams and the role they play in protecting Australia’s unique biosecurity status.”

Perrie, who has only worked as a handler for 2 years, said she was inspired to become a detector dog handler while watching the TV show Border Security.

“As a handler, I can pursue my passion for animals and environmental conservation by protecting Australia from exotic pests and diseases. I feel a great sense of pride, celebrating the dogs’ successes and seeing the dogs reach new heights with their training.

 “I am very lucky to have such a wonderful colleague in Vespa, as she consistently brings a hundred percent to the work she does.”

The Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry currently has 50 biosecurity detector dogs, 52 handlers and eight detector dog Technical Supervisors working across the country to protect Australia’s biosecurity.

Australia’s entire biosecurity detector dog program is made up of Labradors, which have an extraordinary sense of smell, are co-operative and gentle with people and possess extreme hunt, food and retrieve drives. Their tall stature and agility make it easy for them to screen larger items at airports, seaports, and mail centres.

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