Customs and Border Protection canine nominated for top dog award

The Bureau of Customs and Border Protection is urging people to vote "Trouble," the top U.S. service dog in the Pedigree Paws to Recognize contest. A member of the CBP elite Agriculture Inspection Beagle Brigade, Trouble is following in the footsteps of last year's winner, the CBP narcotic detector Labrador retriever Crazy Joe, assigned to John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York City.

People can vote for Trouble, or one of the five other service dogs, at Pedigree Paws to Recognize until Monday.

An e-mail from the CBP public affairs office encourages people to forward the information about "Trouble" to their family and friends and declares, "You can vote as often as you like."

Alice Nathanson, spokeswoman for the program, said the Pedigree contest is supposed to make people aware of how service dogs help people.

Pedigree, in partnership with Wal-Mart, will announce the winner Sept. 29 in New York. The top dog will represent the United States in October at the International Pedigree Paws to Recognize, Canine World Heroes Tribute with the Humane Society of the United States. The event will be held in Washington.

The six groups participating in the competition nominated their top canines, including Guide Dogs for the Blind, U.S. War Dogs Association, Delta Society Pet Partners, National Search and Rescue Dog Association, North American Police Work Dog Association, and CBP.

"They represent the best of the best of how dogs enrich our lives every day," Nathanson said.

Voters are encouraged to choose the dog with the most compelling story.

Trouble, a 31-pound beagle, came from a Texas animal shelter and has worked with the Agriculture Department at the Miami International Airport since 2001 sniffing for prohibited fruits, vegetables and meats that could carry pests or disease. Weeding out infestations of Mediterranean or Caribbean fruit flies are among the six-year-old canine's 115 "notable interceptions."

Trouble has helped his handlers seize 1,834 prohibited items, including 853 pounds of meat. Canine Officer Sherrie Ann Keblish, Trouble's human partner, said the dog is a great companion and one of the finest detector dogs. "Trouble's enthusiasm starts very early in the morning and is contagious. He is always ready to work," Keblish noted.

CBP Commissioner Robert C. Bonner said in the press release, Trouble's seizure record is outstanding and "following in Crazy Joe's pawsteps would be a daunting task for most dogs, but not this one."

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