SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA. Putting our bags inside the inspection perimeter and stepping out of it to fall in line with three others on the side, we watched the trained dog snake through the spaces between the bags and sniff for scents that only dogs of this type can pick up from a crowd.
This was the strict procedure of customs in Australia. To enumerate a few, people should declare if they are bringing in meat, cheese, seafood and milk products in the country. In many cases, items that you will declare will be returned to you after inspection but if customs and security think that these may pose a biohazard risk to all of Australia, they will surely be withheld. Depending on the risk category, you may either pay for the treatment of the items, export the item back to your home country or have the item destroyed.
What if you did not declare these items that fall into the to-be-declared category and the random checkers or the dogs soon found out that you have items in your bag that ought to be declared or, worse, are biosecurity hazards? Well, honey, you will surely be fined. Worse, you will be put to jail so just own up and declare whatever it is that needs declaring as there is no use getting smart with Australia's security because they are evidently way smarter than all of us.
You may spare yourself from this tedious process of declaration by not bringing any goods or foods from wherever you are or even from the airplane at all.
In our case, we had brought dried fish but with their heads cut off, mind you, because we heard that they normally confiscate those that have heads on so we spent days cutting them off before packing them up. This was not a standard though and this may just be a hearsay but we thought that it was still worth doing, just in case the rumour was true.
Watching the dog do his thing, I can hear my heart pounding louder by the second which I tried to brush off. For what reason, I do not know. Maybe it was the adrenaline rush that was getting into me or maybe it was because of the usual response that people get whenever they are being checked by security personnels even though they know in themselves that they are not doing anything wrong. Whatever the case is, I was just glad the dog does not have any ability to assume fear upon detection of a raised heart-rate.
The dog did not stop in front of our bags or in front of anyone's bag from our group for that matter. It actually circled thrice but because it was either having a lazy day or it simply was not picking up any unusual scent from the bunch, the security personnel just thanked all of us and asked us to get our belongings and exit in an orderly manner.
Stepping out of the customs and security area and stepping in the arrival hall of the Sydney airport, I was swept by a wonderful feeling of relief. Relief from what, I actually do not know. One thing is for sure; Sydney's airport security is the most damn strictest I have gone through so far and it just felt good to be able to surpass it.