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A Hall County Animal Shelter pet is now working with the federal government to make sure the foods you eat are safe.
The Animal Shelter received a letter of appreciation from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) on July 24, thanking them for their care of Ryder, the canine that now serves as a USDA agriculture detector dog.
“Due to the continued support of animal rescues like Hall County Animal Control & Enforcement, the USDA agriculture detector dog training programs have been able to utilize displaced canines to detect agricultural pests,” wrote Michael Smith, director of the National Detector Dog Training Center.
Hall County Animal Shelter Program Coordinator Cindy Langman said it comes as no surprise that Ryder has excelled in his new field.
“The Animal Shelter is so fortunate to care for so many smart and well-behaved animals,” Langman said. “The community needs to be aware of the quality selection of great pets we have available for adoption that need good homes.”
Langman said someone from the National Detector Dog Training Center visits the shelter a few times each year to look over their inventory. She said if they see a dog they’re interested in, they evaluate the dog to see how focused it can be on an object such as a dog treat or toy.
“The dog needs to have a strong sense of smell and be very attentive and not be distracted by loud noises,” said Langman.
She said the dogs then go through a training period of six to 12 months. If they pass, they are put to work for organizations such as the USDA, at airports or with private companies like FedEx or UPS.
“It’s rare that they find exactly what they’re looking for because their standards are so specific, but every now and then there’s a dog like Ryder,” she said.
Officials with the USDA obviously found that special something in the former Animal Shelter resident. As was expressed in their letter to shelter officials, Ryder is a special dog that they’re glad they found.
“We would like to express our gratitude for your allocation of canine Ryder, which has ultimately allowed us to continue the mission of protecting the health and value of American agriculture and natural resources,” the letter states.
The Hall County Animal Shelter is located at 1688 Barber Road in Gainesville and is open Tuesday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. A list of pets available for adoption is always available at animalshelter.hallcounty.org.