Wildlife Inspector Canine Handler Amanda Dickson
Chicago O'Hare International Airport Port of Entry, Chicago, Illinois
Wildlife Inspection Canine Handler Amanda Dickson

“Assertive communication is one of the best skills you can learn. Don’t be afraid to reach out and let people know what you want in your career and your life,” Wildlife Inspection Canine Handler Amanda Dickson.

What is your primary work focus?

I work with my canine partner to find undeclared and smuggled wildlife.  

Why do you believe your job makes a positive difference?

My job makes a positive difference because we intercept illegal trafficking of wildlife and educate the public about buying wildlife and wildlife products.

What was your career path that brought you to the Service?

I went to college for animal behavior and always wanted to work with animals. When I graduated college, paying jobs in my field were practically nonexistent so I took a job with the U.S. Customs and Border Protection. At the academy a wildlife inspector spoke to our class, and I knew it was what I wanted to do. I applied a few times and four years later I got hired. It was a great way to combine my passion, education, and my work experience.

What are you most proud of? 

My first canine Lancer found over a dozen shipments of smuggled live turtles, saving more than 200 turtles from inhumane smuggling conditions.  

What advice would you give to a young woman who is thinking about pursuing a career in wildlife law enforcement?

Do it! Get a good education and don’t be afraid to take a job that isn’t exactly what you want because it can still open other doors for you.

How does the danger of your job affect your loved ones?

I don’t think my job is usually that dangerous.

What challenges did you overcome to get where you are today?

I used to be really shy. Some of the best advice I ever received was from my 5th grade teacher who told me to step outside of my comfort zone. I decided to overcome my shyness by taking a job as a waitress while I was in high school, and it changed my life. Now I love talking to people. 

Written by Wildlife Inspector Canine Handler Amanda Dickson, OLE Comms Team

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