A Sniffer Pup Shortage is the Cutest Supply Chain Threat Yet

Semiconductor scarcity. Online shopping demand. Cyberattacks. The last year has brought plenty of stress to bear on supply chains.

But now there’s another issue dogging them: man’s cuddly best friend.

That’s right. Airlines and logistics companies are scampering over one another to hire the limited number of available sniffer dogs in order to meet tough new anti-terrorism cargo screening rules.

All the Dogs to Work, No Time to Train Them

Starting in July, a new edict from the International Civil Aviation Organization will require screening of 100% of cargo on international all-cargo flights (already a requirement on passenger flights.)

That’s left shippers scrambling to find certified K-9s before the dog days of summer hit – and demand is starting to outstrip supply, according to industry stakeholders:

  • Compared to last year, K9 firm Cargo Screening K9 Alliance has gotten twice as many quote requests for dogs from air cargo carriers, ground handlers, and logistics groups in the first five months of 2021.
  • And rival Global K9 Protection Group expects to grow its canine handling teams for air cargo to 225 from 125 by the end of July.

High Maintenance: “The question is will there be enough canines and trained teams ready for the deadline,” said Brandon Fried, chief executive of the Airforwarders Association. Training a dog takes six to eight weeks and costs $100,000. Those hefty requirements have some speculating the answer is “no”.

Major carriers like UPS say they’ve planned ahead and are ready to go, but smaller air cargo carriers and ground handling agents are likely to struggle.

Scan’s Best Friend: Meanwhile, X-ray machine companies like Smiths Detection are expecting double-digit growth this year due to the new screening rules. But according to Glyn Hughes, chief executive of The International Air Cargo Association, sniffer dogs are unparalleled in their ability to detect dangerous cargo.

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