Sunday 21 July 2024
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Homeless labrador joins Nottinghamshire Police

A homeless dog is enjoying a new lease of life at Nottinghamshire Police – where he and his handler will spend the next few years sniffing out illegal drugs.

Dougie, a two-year-old Labrador, has been recruited from the Dogs Trust after staff at the charity singled him out as a potential working animal.

Over the last six weeks he has learned to sniff out all manner of illegal substances in crowded settings and has now qualified as a working police dog.

He and his handler PC Nic Crabtree will spend much of their working lives in the night-time economy and among crowds at major public events.

PC Crabtree said:

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“Dougie came to us from the Dogs Trust and has found a new home at Nottinghamshire Police. Passive dogs specialise in the detection of illegal drugs carried by people in crowded settings and Dougie is absolutely perfect for that role.

“He’s not only got a good nose; he’s also got that confidence he needs to mingle in large crowds and approach people in all sorts of settings.

“The last six weeks have been hard work for us both and I am just really pleased we have now completed the course.”

Nottinghamshire Police currently has 21 dogs in its ranks – a mixture of larger general-purpose animals capable of chasing down and tracking suspects, and specialist sniffer dogs trained to sniff out specific items.

Dog instructor PC Jon Burton explained how Dougie and other dogs like him are trained. He said:

“All dogs have an amazing sense of smell and can – with the right training – be taught to sniff out more-or-less anything.

“Our passive course is all about getting the dogs used to the smell of certain substances and giving them the confidence to identify them.

“Once we are confident the dogs can do that in a static, controlled environment we gradually introduce them to more realistic scenarios using real people.

“This starts with volunteers in and around Police HQ, and later builds up to scenarios in more built-up areas.

“The most important thing is that we make it fun for the dogs and reward them every time they get it right – usually with their favourite tennis ball.”

Louise Crawford, animal welfare scheme coordinator at Dogs Trust, said:

“Dougie was identified by the staff at our Loughborough rehoming centre as being suitable for a working home, and I am delighted that Dougie is doing so well with Nottinghamshire Police and will soon become a fully licensed police dog.”

Sergeant Jonathan Lee, of Nottinghamshire Police’s dog section, said: “Over the last few weeks dozens of staff at police HQ have given up tie in their breaks to volunteer as test subjects.

“Without them this training would not be possible so – on behalf of everybody at the dog section – I would like to say thank you to them.”

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