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Evaluation of the Detector Dog Service (DDS) Program: Annexes

A: Management response and action plan

Recommendation 1

Resource utilization and Program focus: The Vice-President of Commercial and Trade Branch should conduct a review of Program priorities, performance results and current resource allocation to determine where DDS Teams could be used to maximize enforcement capacity.

Management response

The Vice-President (VP) of the Commercial and Trade Branch (CTB) agrees with the recommendation to conduct a review of DDS program priorities, performance results and resource allocations to maximize DDS enforcement capacity. By implementing the management action plan items below CTB will: ensure that detector dogs are maximized as a tool for detecting regulated/prohibited goods for which current performance data indicates that limitations may exist (e.g. firearms, fentanyl, precursors); ensure that the Program’s focus is aligned with overall Agency and Government of Canada priorities for the detection of prohibited goods that pose the highest risks to Canadians; and review coverage across all regions and modes to produce the best possible results. The CTB will collaborate with relevant stakeholders, including the Human Resources Branch’s (HRB) Detector Dog Training Program, the Regions and Health Canada (HC), to evaluate and reassess program priorities and validate the feasibility of desired changes. A DDS resource allocation plan will be developed, to align with the Detection Tool Strategy vision and to promote strategic placement of resources in areas and/or modes with gaps in DDS coverage.

Management action plan Completion date Lead Support
1. Review the DDS Program’s current odour profile against program enforcement results, CBSA priorities, and emerging threats to ensure the Program is focused on the areas of highest risk. CTB HRB
2. Develop a DDS resource allocation plan to address areas with gaps in coverage ([redacted]); that takes into account the regional and program-specific allocation of DDS resources and the Program’s performance results. CTB Regions
3. Incorporate DDS allocation in the integrated business plans (IBPs)/regional plans, so that regional and program-specific allocations can be assessed/revisited on a yearly basis. CTB CTB (IPPMD)

Recommendation 2

Program HQ role as the functional authority: With a view to improve efficiency and accountability, the Vice-President of Commercial and Trade Branch should exercise their functional management role to review regional policies/agreements (including the one-dog approach) and provide direction to all Regions to ensure consistency and efficiency of service delivery.

Management response

The VP of CTB agrees with the recommendation to exercise their role as the DDS Program’s functional authority. The CTB, will consult with relevant stakeholders, including HRB, and the Strategic Policy Branch (GBA Plus team), to review existing regional policies/agreements and refine national policies to ensure efficient and effective service delivery. The review will result in a more consistent and equitable approach to staffing Detector Dog Handler (DDH) assignments and promote a work environment that is more inclusive and non-discriminatory. The DDS manual will be updated to refine the roles and responsibilities of the DDS national program authority, in an effort to provide clear policy direction that promotes program effectiveness.

Management action plan Completion date Lead Support
1. Develop a national approach related to DDH assignments that contributes to the stability of the Program and is reflective of regional priorities and of GBA Plus considerations when relevant. CTB HRB
2. Update the DDS Manual to refine the roles and responsibilities of the DDS national program authority to improve Program accountability and performance. CTB HRB
3. Take stock of existing DDS regional policies/agreements and assess their impact on, and alignment with, national Program efficiency and service delivery priorities. CTB Regions

Recommendation 3

Performance measurement and reporting: The Vice-President of Commercial and Trade Branch should formalize a performance measurement framework (PMF) for the Detector Dog Service Program, including an approach to regularly track progress against indicators and fully report on the expected results and value of the program.

Management response

The VP of the CTB agrees with the recommendation to formalize a performance measurement framework (PMF). The CTB, will consult with relevant stakeholders in the Finance and Corporate Management Branch (FCMB), to develop a PMF that will allow CTB to monitor, measure and report on the effectiveness of the DDS program (achievement of expected outcomes), its efficiency (resource utilization) and that demonstrates the value of the Program to the Agency.

Management action plan Completion date Lead Support
1. Develop a PMF, including key performance indicators, to monitor and report on the Program’s expected outcomes in the existing logic model, including contributions to the Agency’s facilitation and enforcement objectives. CTB FCMB
2. Incorporate PMF indicators in the annual DDS Performance & Activity Report to identify challenges and opportunities. CTB N/A

B: Methodology and limitations


The evaluation applied a contribution analysis approach and used multiple lines of evidence, including:

  • Interviews: 32 (including chiefs and superintendents from all Regions and covering all modes, plus two District Directors)
  • Survey: All active detector dog Handlers were invited to participate (n=77). The response rate of 73% was deemed representative
  • Review of financial data: costing and analytical (CAM) data provided by FCMB. Reviewed years 2017 to 2018 to 2020 to 2021
  • Review of operational data: postal, commercial and traveller volumes, Handler Activity Report (HAR), and ICES data. Reviewed years 2017 to 2018 to 2020 to 2021
  • Case studies: Five case studies covering different types of DDS teams, regions, modes, and seizures (See Annex G for detailed case studies)
  • Field visit: the evaluation team visited Ottawa International Airport and observed the FPA DDS team in actionFootnote 1
  • Document and literature review: review of program documents and literature on threats and similar programs in other countries

General data limitations

  • Volumes data included combined traveller, commercial, and postal volumes. Volumes could not be disaggregated to protect the confidentiality of postal volume data provided by Canada Post.
  • ICES data includes traveller and minimal commercial seizures (0.77% of all seizures were listed as commercial seizures). Commercial seizures from other data systems were sought by the evaluation team but were not available for analysis.
  • ICES requires input by BSOs, which may have resulted in human error while inputting data.
  • As data was reviewed from 2017 to 2018 to 2021 to 2022, trend analyses are caveated by the impact from the COVID-19 pandemic years (2020 to 2021 and 2021 to 2022).
  • Given the complementary nature of detection technology used by front-line staff, seizures cannot be attributed to DDS teams. Rather, the evaluation explored the contribution made by DDS teams to enforcement and facilitation objectives.

C: Other program contributions

DDS Program

  1. EnforcementFootnote 2
    • Intercept regulated FPA products
      • Protecting Canada’s environment and economy
    • Intercept undeclared currency
      • Intercept movement of illicit goods linked to financial transactions and proceeds of crime
    • Elicit non-verbal indications/behaviors
      • Traveller modernization and roving
    • Intercept D&F
      • Public safety (opioid and gun violence crises)
    • Deterrence and spontaneous admission
  2. Public relations
    • Public education
    • Recruitment
    • Visibility and branding
  3. Facilitation*
    • Primary
    • Secondary
  4. Operations
    • Moral boost
    • Mentoring in enforcement
    • Frontline safety
  5. Partnerships
    • Local enforcement partners
    • International relationship for training

D: [redacted] details

[redacted] Initiative timeline Expected deliverables Expected delivery date One-time funding to the CBSA Ongoing funding to the CBSA Delivered
Guns & Gangs (2017-2018) 7 years 5 new D&F DDS teams 2024 $16.68 M $1.22 M 5 new teams were deployed by 2018-2019
Opioid Crisis (2018) 5 years 6 new D&F DDS teams 2023 $1.9 M 0.2 M 6 teams detecting fentanyl were deployed by 2018-2019Tablenote 1
African Swine Fever (2019) 5 years 24 new FPA DDS teams 2024 $31.2 M $5.8 M On track to deploy 24 new teams by end of 2022-2023 (so far 19 teams have been deployed)

E: Supplementary analysis of the one-dog policy

Number of detector dogs by years active before retirement
Years active (range) Number of dogs
1-3 22
3-5 22
5-7 25
7-9 20
9-11 15

Ranges of active years are rounded to the nearest whole number.


  • Average working life of detector dogs is 6 years (median: 6; mode: 8; based on working life, over the last 12 years)
  • The expectation is that most detector dogs retire after 8 to 10 years of service; however, analysis did not reflect this (see graph)

F: DDS Program logic model

CBSA strategic outcome

International trade and travel is facilitated across Canada’s borders and Canada’s population is protected from border-related risks.

Program outcomes

  • Ultimate: The DDS Program contributes to the mitigation of threat to the safety and security of Canada from border-related risks, and supports the facilitation of admissible travellers and goods across the border
  • Intermediate
    • Legitimate goods cross the border in a timely fashion and are subject to minimal intervention
    • Regulated and prohibited goods are intercepted and processed accordingly
    • Increased public awareness of CBSA detection capacities and cross-border regulations
  • Immediate:
    • More effective, efficient and non-intrusive screening of travellers, goods, mail, and conveyances at ports of entry, mail/courier facilities and examination locations
    • Increased public awareness of CBSA detection capacities and cross-border regulations


  • Management (CTB, HQ)
    • Policies
    • Guidance documents
    • Performance reports
    • Risk and financial assessments
    • Publications
  • Delivery (Regions)
    • Recorded searches
    • Handler activity reports
    • Completed training records
    • Publications/ materials distributed to public
  • Detector Dog Training Program (CBSA College, HRB)
    • Trained and informed DDS Teams (a dog and a handler) ready to perform their duties
    • Technical guidance materials
    • Training and certification courses and materials


  • Management (CTB, HQ)
    • Develop policy
    • Provide functional guidance
    • Seek opportunities to fund program expansion
    • Strategic allocation of DDS Teams to high-risk POEs and operational streams
    • Conduct performance measurement and reporting
    • Coordinates with key delivery partners
  • Delivery (Regions)
    • DDS teams conduct and assist in examinations/searches at POEs and other locations, and engage in ongoing training activities
    • DDS teams attend events, conduct demonstrations, and educate the public
  • Detector Dog Training Program (CBSA College, HRB)
    • Procure dogs
    • Conduct candidate assessments, technical evaluations, and certifications/ (re)certifications
    • Train dogs and handlers
    • Provide technical advice/SME

Program mandate

The DDS Program contributes to public safety and the protection of Canada’s environment and economy by assisting front-line BSOs in the detection of prohibited and regulated goods.


The DDS Program has a complement of trained DDS teams capable of detecting regulated and prohibited goods that have been identified as priority for detection. This capacity is supplied by the DDTP, HRB.

G: Case studies

Case study 1: Handler Heidi Paterson and Detector Dog Ridgeway (Currency DDS Team)

  • Stream: Travellers
  • Mode: Air
  • Date: April 19, 2022
  • Place: Pearson International Airport, GTA
  • Seizure value: $42,312
  • Enforcement action: Level 1 seizure, fine paid by traveller

Case narrative

  1. While searching a Turkish Airways flight, Detector Dog Ridgeway approached a female traveller and immediately indicated towards her purse.
  2. As a result, the traveller was referred to secondary for further examination.
  3. In secondary, the BSO discovered the traveller had 30,004 USD and 3,270 Euros. The traveller admitted to concealing the funds, as she was concerned about withdrawing the funds from her country of origin.
  4. BSO educated the woman and fined her $250.
  5. It should be noted that this traveller completed a similar traveller itinerary 2 months later (in June 2022). Thanks to the previous interception by the DDS team, and the subsequent education upon the discovery of contraband, the passenger properly declared all currency upon entering Canada this second time.

Contributions to the CBSA and Canada

Facilitation: Currency DDS teams can screen 250-300 travellers in less than 30 minutes.


Non-intrusive selective referrals: Detector dogs [redacted].

Following the money: Undeclared currency could be proceeds of a crime or helping to fund criminal or terrorist organizations. Finding and seizing concealed funds contributes to the enforcement mandate of the CBSA and keeps Canada safe.

Integrity of other programs: There are several reasons a passenger may conceal currency. They may want to continue collecting government assistance without declaring their assets or income. Finding and seizing concealed currency upholds the integrity of other Government of Canada programs.

Educating the public: Travellers usually carry funds on their person rather than luggage, giving currency DDS teams the opportunity to get close to travellers and to educate them on the importance of declaring currency.

Mentoring the front-line: By dealing with the referrals of the DDS team and using the handler experience, the BSOs learn about currency finds and seizures.

What would have happened if the team was not there that day?

Unless the Currency DDS Team was sent to search the plane based on suspicion of this specific traveller, it would have taken multiple BSOs several hours to screen the entire flight to identify and refer this specific traveller to secondary.

The traveller may have walked out the door with undeclared currency and potentially continued not declaring during future travel.

Case study 2: Handler Kyle Hardy and Detector Dog Piper (Firearm DDS team)

  • Stream: Travellers
  • Mode: Land
  • Date: October 21, 2021
  • Place: Ambassador Bridge, SOR
  • Enforcement action: Seizure of 2 firearms and 256 g of cannabis, traveller arrested and sentenced to 1 year in jail

Case narrative

  1. Two travellers in a vehicle from the US claimed to have made a wrong turn and ended up at the Ambassador Bridge POE.
  2. As the BSO began questioning the travellers, the driver mentioned the car was in “valet mode,” and therefore the glovebox and trunk could not be opened. Kyle and Piper were called.
  3. Piper indicated on one of the travellers, the trunk, the centre console, and the glovebox. BSOs then used a fiberscope to continue searching, and eventually were able to open the compartments within the vehicle.
  4. Once opened, BSOs discovered one handgun with the serial numbered filed off, a second handgun that was determined to be stolen, and 256 g of marijuana.
  5. Local police were notified, and the driver was later sentenced to 1 year in jail.

Contributions to the CBSA and Canada

Keeping guns and drugs off the street: By indicating on contraband and providing grounds for detention, the DDS team helped keep guns and drugs off the streets, especially important with the rise of gun violence in Canada.

[redacted]. It would have taken several hours and 4-5 BSOs to tow the vehicle to X-ray it.

Deterrence factor: The presence of a DDS team acts as a deterrent to travellers who might break the law, leading to spontaneous admission in some cases.

Boosting the morale and experience of BSOs: Once a detector dog indicates on a vehicle, officers are motivated to search until the contraband is found. The indication from a DDS team gives BSOs the confidence that their suspicion on the presence of contraband was correct. Due to their experience and specialization, detector dog handlers can help mentor less experienced BSOs on what to look for while examining a traveller or a vehicle.

Dogs are highly specialized: Detector dogs are the only detection tool always used by the same individual. Other tools may not be properly maintained, and are only as capable as the user. DDS teams are a highly specialized and selective tool.

One seizure can lead to more: BSOs are more likely to request DDS team assistance when they are already on site, as they have confidence and trust in their expertise.

What would have happened if the team was not there that day?

The travellers could have simply been directed back to the US. Thus, we could have unknowingly put the lives of US bound travellers, and our peers at USCBP at risk while encountering these travellers.

Case study 3: Handler Gwen Pease and Detector Dog Kodiak (FPA DDS team)

  • Stream: Travellers
  • Mode: Air
  • Date: December 28, 2021 to January 3, 2022
  • Place: Calgary International Airport, PRA

Case narrative

A week in the life of an FPA DDS team:

At the Calgary Airport, the two FPA teams aim to screen 100% of all international overseas flights. During the week of December 28, 2021 to January 3, 2022, the DDS team issued 3 enforcement actions concerning three separate cases:

  1. Kodiak indicated on a bag on the carousel. The traveller had declared admissible food in primary and therefore was not referred to secondary. The traveller had a verbal warning on their file from the handler for bringing inadmissible food previously. Upon examination of the bags, the handler noticed bone structure of hands and paws belonging to the inadmissible invasive grass- cutter rats. The traveller was issued an AAAMP.
  2. Kodiak indicated on a delayed bag. The handler made the connection to another bag with the same name tag in secondary. Both bags were examined revealing an array of various regulated meat and food products, including primate body parts. A DNA test preformed by Environment Canada revealed meat of Western Red Colobus Monkey and Sooty Mangabey Monkey. Amongst the monkey was domestic cow, frog, tuna, and red river hog (a species that could carry the ASF virus). The traveller was issued an AAAMP.
  3. Kodiak indicated on a bag on the carousel. The traveller insisted there was no meat. Upon examination, 5 bags of meat and 4.5 kg of plant materials including bark, roots and soil were found. The traveller was released with an AAAMP warning as their children were showing symptoms of COVID-19 and needed to go for testing immediately per the COVID-19 protocol.

Contributions to the CBSA and Canada

Protecting Canada’s environment and biodiversity: Soil and plant materials are internationally recognized as a high-risk pathway for introducing pests and animal pathogens. By interdicting them, the DDS team protected Canada’s biodiversity from potentially invasive species and pests.

Protecting farming and agriculture industries: FPA DDS team prevent the introduction of foreign species that can result in disastrous impacts on the farming and agriculture industries. The African Swine Fever could cost billions in losses to the pork industry in Canada.

Combating wildlife trafficking: By indicating on meat of endangered animals such as primates, the DDS team contributes to Canada’s stand against wildlife poaching and trafficking.

[redacted]: Nearly all travellers carry some sort of an FPA product in their luggage. X-raying and examining all bags on a flight requires extensive time and resources. FPA DDS teams only indicate on bags with FPA products that may require intercepting. DDS teams are an efficient, selective and non- intrusive detection tool. Additionally, a detector dog does not stop once they indicate on one bag, but continues to screen the rest of the travellers and their baggage. This autonomy is not replicated by any other detection tool.

Educating and deterring the travelling public: Not all inadmissible FPA products result in an AAAMP, but they may result in raising the awareness of travellers to the importance of declaring accurately. Seeing the detector dog searching may be a strong deterrent factor as well.

Mentoring the front line: FPA DDHs are generally considered subject- matter experts in examining bags for FPA products, and issuing a subsequent AAAMP, if and when warranted. These skills may be taught by the handlers to their front-line colleagues.

What would have happened if the team was not there that day?

Since examining 100% of travellers’ luggage is very inefficient without the use of a DDS team, there is a high likelihood that the luggage of the travellers in question may never have been examined. Plant and animal products carrying invasive pests or pathogens could have entered Canada and caused significant damage.

Case study 4: Handler Tracey Skelton and Detector Dog Kaya (Drug & Firearm DDS team)

  • Stream: Commercial
  • Mode: Marine
  • Date: December 21, 2021
  • Place: Tsawwassen Container Examination Facility, Pacific
  • Seizure value: $18 million
  • Enforcement action: Level 1 seizure, fine paid by traveller

Case narrative

  1. DDH Tracey was called in to the container examination facility after arriving home from a shift.
  2. Kaya performed a search on the offloaded part of the container and indicated on one box and showed interest in two other boxes. Due to the strong chemical smell the container emitted, the handler did not send the detector dog into the container. After offloading more boxes and dispersing them on the floor, the detector dog gave positive indications on the two additional boxes.
  3. Ion swabs were performed and showed negative results. However, due to the detector dog indication, samples were sent to the lab.
  4. The boxes were concealed and undeclared, and the shipment was listed as household goods.
  5. The lab later confirmed that the powders were fentanyl precursors.

Contributions to the CBSA and Canada

Safety of Canadians: 86% of all opioid-related deaths in 2021 involved fentanyl. Finding and seizing illegal and highly toxic substances such as fentanyl is a direct contribution to the safety and health of Canadians.

Safety of BSOs: Other detection tools are not always available and, as seen in this case with the ion scans, sometimes they are imperfect. Without the presence of the DDS team, the safety of the BSOs could have been compromised as exposure to fentanyl can be fatal.

Reputation of Canada: With the increase in illegal drug exports from Canada, including fentanyl, the interception of the precursors shipment contributed to preventing more fentanyl from being produced and distributed. Footnote 3

Reliability and efficiency: Other detection technologies are not always available. [redacted]. The LSI requires 3-4 BSOs with specialized training to operate it.

One-of-a-kind detection tool: Other detection technologies, such as X-ray machines, require BSO expertise in order to detect contraband - although powders are visible on an X-ray, the X-ray cannot detect what type of powder it is, whether it is a narcotic or an admissible product.

Mentoring the front line: In this case, BSOs were able to learn firsthand how to use different detection technologies, what smells to avoid, what and where to look for suspicious goods, and the reliability of the different detection tools, such as the Ion Scan.

What would have happened if the team was not there that day?

The seizure may have not occurred due to the negative results of the ion scans.

The containers and packages could have been opened and could have posed a danger to BSOs.

Case study 5: Handlers Jonathan Tjan and Darrin Azzano and Detector Dogs Perce and Pepsi (D&F and FPA DDS teams)

  • Stream: Commercial
  • Mode: Postal
  • Location: International Mail Processing Centre, GTA

Case narrative

FPA DDS teams

  • Jonathan Tjan and his detector dog Perce work together to find inadmissible food, plant, and animal products at the mail centre
  • Mail from high-risk countries is placed in a room in rows, and the FPA detector dogs can quickly search through a large quantity of boxes within a few minutes
  • They are also available to assist BSOs when they see something on an X-ray that looks suspicious, and train less experienced BSOs on what contraband looks like under the X-ray
  • On an average day, each FPA team will search 600-800 parcels and often get a minimum of 5 positive indications

D&F DDS teams

  • Darrin Azzano and detector dog, Pepsi, search for drugs and firearms at the mail centre
  • Pepsi is able to search thousands of parcels for drugs and firearms (imports or exports) within 15-20 minutes. When any contraband is found, BSOs are called in to assist with the seizure
  • Darrin has built relationships with staff at the shipping warehouses, and plans his day around their import schedules
  • On any given day, Darrin and Pepsi will find 12 to 55 parcels containing contraband

Contributions to the CBSA and Canada

Protecting the front line: BSO safety is a priority for the Agency. Detector dogs are able to indicate on packages without opening them, and potentially exposing BSOs to harmful chemicals or drugs.

Facilitation: Detector dogs can search thousands of packages in a matter of minutes (depending on the type of team), ensuring that legitimate imports and exports enter/leave Canada without delay.

You can’t fool the detector dogs: As detector dogs are trained on odours, they are not easily tricked by evolving methods of concealment. Other detection tools may not have the ability to keep up with new concealment methods.

Integrity and reputation of Canada: Searching exports and seizing contraband not only disrupts criminal organizations, but maintains the integrity and reputation of the CBSA and of Canada. Footnote 4

Information is shared across the Agency: DDS handlers receive calls from other handlers and BSOs across the Agency, asking if they’ve noticed trends. Handlers are able to share information on what they see, helping BSOs make seizures across the country.

What would have happened if the team was not there that day?

Without the presence of DDS teams at mail centres, exports could leave without being searched. When illegal products coming from Canada are discovered by the Customs service of a foreign country, Canada is seen as a “source” for contraband.

The ability to screen imports could be limited to items that are x-rayed. Contraband is often concealed in a manner that may not appear on X-rays, potentially leading to dangerous goods flowing into the country.

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