A young boxer/Staffie cross from our West Hatch Animal Centre near Taunton has become the latest success story for both the centre and for Avon and Somerset Police as he graduated this month as a sniffer dog.

Staffie cross Harry © RSPCA/Anita ClarkHarry was taken to the centre, which is this year celebrating its 50th anniversary, by RSPCA Inspector Sarah Hetherington, after his owners were banned from keeping animals.  A case was brought against them for causing unnecessary suffering after they failed to get veterinary treatment for a female boxer dog they also owned when she suffered a broken pelvis and dislocated hip following a road accident.

Luckily, West Hatch kennel supervisor Sue Dicks looked past Harry’s unusual appearance, and picked up on the fact he had the potential to search.  She worked on developing this with a ball, and then asked PC Lee Webb to assess him. PC Webb decided he had potential, and enrolled him on the latest police course.

Harry can search for a total of 20 scents

Harry with PC Paul Manley © RSPCA/Anita ClarkThere was a slow start when it was decided Harry didn’t have enough drive to become a police dog and he was returned to the centre. However he was given a second chance and handler PC Paul Manley worked hard with him during his time off to make up for the part of the course that he’d missed.

Despite then being behind the other dogs on the course, Harry passed out as a drugs dog in June 2013. He is now also finding firearms and currency as well as drugs. This means he can search for a total of 20 different scents.

On his second shift, he was called to a house with handler PC Manley, where a drugs warrant was being executed. Harry found drugs hidden in the bedroom, making him the first dog on his course to find drugs in a real situation.

A less traditional breed for drug work

Harry and Kos with handlers © Avon & Somerset policePC Lee Webb was the first handler in the country to train a Staffie cross, Kos,  as a drugs dog. So is pleased Avon and Somerset Police have managed to recruit another less traditional breed for drug work. He said:

We are pleased to assess and select dogs based on ability not looks. This is a case of “don’t judge a book by its cover.”

Acting animal centre manager Anita Clark said:

“We are very proud of our staff for being able to assess the suitability of so many dogs for police work and are particularly grateful to Avon and Somerset Police for maintaining such a good relationship with the centre.”

Harry is now the third Staffie cross from West Hatch RSPCA to have become a drugs dog.

To find out more about rehoming an animal from West Hatch please call 0300 123 0747.

Find out more about what we do and read more examples of other prosecutions.

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