Customs canine managers upset over transfers

Five canine managers at the Customs Service allege the agency retaliated against them for a letter to Commissioner Raymond Kelly that criticized the department's drug-sniffing dog program, according to the Associated Press.

In a letter dated April 22, 1999, the managers complained about poor training, substandard veterinary care, and staff shortages at the Front Royal, Va. canine center. Customs uses the dogs to sniff out illegal drugs including cocaine, marijuana and heroin.

The employees were transferred to far-flung posts in September 1999.

The letter to Kelly suggested moving the canine program from the Office of Field Operations to the Office of Investigations, and also questioned the agency's allocation of congressional funds for the program.

Customs officials claim the employees were reassigned to improve the overall program, not in retaliation for their letter.

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