But if that doesn’t already make your skin crawl, according to USA Today, a beagle working as a sniffer dog for the Canada Border Services Agency made the creepy-crawly discovery that tops them all: five thousand leeches.
The discovery, originally made on Oct. 17, 2018, but reported exclusively by National Geographic over the weekend, happened at Toronto Pearson International Airport. The Canadian man who had the leeches in his luggage was on a return trip from Russia at the time.
However, since the man was not actively trying to conceal the leeches, he was not charged with smuggling. According to National Geographic, he has been charged with “illegally importing an internationally regulated species without the required permits,” per André Lupert, manager of intelligence for the Wildlife Enforcement Directorate at Environment and Climate Change Canada, Ontario Region. He will have to attend a court hearing later next month in Toronto.
According to Lupert, speaking to National Geographic, the man claimed he was only using the leeches for personal use to fertilize his orchids using the leech’s “waste water.” However, Lupert suspected that the number of leeches involved suggests they were intended to sell.
Leeches were widely used by doctors dating back thousands of years in order to treat a huge array of medical ailments, but fell out of favor as other scientific methods became more accessible. Leeches, as “blood suckers,” were often used for treatments for diseases thought to be caused by an “excess of blood,” according to USA Today.
Up until recently, the use of leeches was considered out of date or even “medieval,” but recently, leech therapies, including ones for surgery, trauma and reconstructive procedures, have been approved by the FDA, USA Today reported.