The Florida Agriculture Department recruited a black Labrador Retriever named Bear to sniff out rat-sized Giant African Land Snails (GALS) before they escape from the Miami area and invade the rest of the state.
Before dogs joined the hunt, human snail fighters tried baiting traps and even crawling areas where residents reported seeing the pests.
About two years ago, a Miami homeowner identified the danger posed by the enormous mollusks, whose ravenous appetite for stucco and plaster can damage buildings. The snails devour calcium to grown their big shells. The snails also eat many different kinds of plants and help disburse a parasite that causes meningitis.
The canine detector teams tasked with rooting out the destructive slimy creatures have helped rid Miami of more than 128,000 GALS in the past two year, according to Reuters. In 2010, a Santeria practitioner brought the snails to South Florida and the group began using the snails in their religious services, which blend practices from the West African Yorùbá religion with Roman Catholicism and some Amerindian influences.
Florida officials claim that they have confined the GALS infestation to the Miami area.
For more information about Sarasota & Her Islands, please contact Louis Wery.