Homeland Security dog intercepts roasted pig's head at Atlanta's airport

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Hardy, right, poses with the roasted pig's head that he detected in luggage at ATL. (DHS/CBP)

Securing the homeland is about a lot more than preventing terrorism, recovering from natural disasters, and thwarting human traffickers. It is also about stopping the potential agricultural destruction caused by pests and diseases.

In the case of one suitcase that arrived at Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport last week, that kind of threat could have come from a cooked pig. But U.S. Customs and Border Protection intercepted the roasted swine—all thanks to a 6-year-old beagle's nose.

Hardy, a member of CBP's so-called Beagle Brigade since 2015, alerted his handler about baggage belonging to a traveler from Ecuador.

Agriculture specialists with CBP opened the suitcase and found a 2-pound roasted pig's head wrapped in foil. Authorities confiscated the head—snout, teeth and all—and destroyed it.

"Our best defense against destructive pests and animal diseases is to prevent the entry of prohibited agriculture products from entering the United States," said Carey Davis, the CBP's area port director in Atlanta. "This seizure at ATL illustrate the tremendous expertise of our four-legged K-9 partners in protecting the United States."

In case you're wondering what is the harm in importing a roasted pig into the United States, CBP explains that pork and pork products from other continents are a no-no because of the risk of introducing foreign diseases—such as foot and mouth disease, classical swine fever, and swine vesicular disease—to local farm animals.

On an average day, CBP agriculture specialists, many with detector dogs, intercept hundreds of pests and thousands of samples of plants, meat, animal byproducts, and soil requiring quarantine, according to the Department of Homeland Security.