WASHINGTON, D.C. — Trained dogs could help sniff out fentanyl smuggled into the United States, U.S. Senator Joni Ernst said Tuesday, but there aren’t enough dogs for the job right now.

Ernst returned this week following a weekend trip to the U.S. and Mexico border, along with U.S. Representatives Randy Feenstra of Hull and Mariannette Miller-Meeks of Ottumwa. “This is low-tech technology. Dogs are about as low-tech as you get,” Ernst said, “But they are one of the best ways to find those drugs.”

Dogs can cost $10-15,000 to train, according to the National Police Dog Foundation. Ernst said that her trip to the border included conversations with drug enforcement agents who told her that there are three to five K-9 units on duty at a particular time, but that’s not nearly enough to check out vehicles entering the country.

“It would take quite a while,” Ernst acknowledges of the challenge to train and fund the necessary dogs, “So that’s why we need to start now.”

There is already a shortage of trained drug-sniffing dogs. Ernst said that she couldn’t yet say how much it would cost to provide the dogs that would be needed.

Agents seized three times as much fentanyl in December compared to the previous December, according to U.S. Customs and Border Patrol.