A beagle rescued in Forsyth County and fostered in Gainesville has found work in south Florida as a federal officer for the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Known as "Toby" during his time as a foster dog in the Humane League of Lake Lanier, the beagle now named Lenox recently graduated from a 10-week training program at the National Detector Dog Training Center in Newnan.
Along with his handler, Lenox has been trained to sniff out food items smuggled into the U.S., including meats, fruits and vegetables.
The pair will inspect international flights and cruise ships for contraband.
The beagle's journey began when the USDA saw his photo on Petfinder.com.
He had spent 18 months in foster care at Gypsy Paws, a dog day care in Gainesville. Business owner Kelley Emrey said it was difficult to find a permanent home for the dog.
Emrey had the honor of presenting Lenox's gold K-9 emblem at his graduation ceremony, in which three other beagles were also sent off to work.
Beth Mulrooney, president of the Forsyth County-based Humane League, said in a statement that the USDA takes a special interest in beagles because they are quite food-motivated, making them easy to train.
She applauded the national program for giving rescue dogs a second chance. More than 90 percent of graduating dogs at the Newnan facility come from shelters.
"As Americans and animal advocates, we are proud to participate in this program that both guards our borders and saves lives," Mulrooney said.