The U.S. Airforwarders Association told a congressional panel that the U.S. Transportation Security Administration (TSA) should move toward permitting private contractors to train explosive-sniffing dogs and make them available for use at government-certified cargo screening facilities.
Appearing before the U.S. House of Representatives’ Homeland Security Subcommittee on Transportation Security, AfA board member Chris Connell urged TSA to finalize its efforts to develop a program for private companies to use their own canines, certified to TSA standards, to meet federal air cargo screening mandates.
Presently, TSA permits only the use of the agency’s dogs in cargo screening, and only at on-airport facilities.
Connell, who is president of Los Angeles-based freight forwarder Commodity Forwarders, Inc., said enabling the use of private sector dogs will help broaden the security options for freight forwarders who operate off-airport Certified Cargo Screening Facilities, which are supervised by TSA.
“We are not saying that privatized canines are a magic bullet when it comes to screening cargo, but they are a potentially valuable part of this multilayer approach – another important tool in the toolbox, if you will – that includes a range of other technology solutions that our members can use to meet their screening requirements,” he said.
Connell told the subcommittee that in a recent survey of AfA members, 75 percent of respondents said they would strongly consider using dogs provided by private companies if they were given the option.
“Time is money in our business. And right now, our company believes that we could save over $1 million a year at our LAX facility if we had access to a third-party solution deploying canines. And of course our customers would highly appreciate the time savings that this solution would help us achieve,” Connell said.
Connell also noted that use of specially trained dogs is one of the methods for screening airfreight that are identified in the 9/11 Commission Recommendations Act.