Police yesterday unveiled their latest fearsome weapon in the fight against crime – Britain’s first Staffordshire bull terrier sniffer dog.
Former rescue dog Kos, a black and white Staffie, is the first of his breed to be trained to detect drugs, currency and firearms.
He was transformed by Avon and Somerset Police dog handler PC Lee Webb after being donated to the force by an RSPCA rescue centre 18 months ago.
And his new career got off to a flying start when he found a lump of heroin in a car which was pulled over in Bristol on his first day.
PC Webb said: “Like many breeds, Staffies can be tarnished with a bad reputation, which is unfair.
“But Kos is the gentlest and kindest of dogs. He’s always been very playful and he absolutely loves the game of searching.”
Police usually train Springer Spaniels or Weimaraners as their temperament is more suited to learning the extreme levels of control necessary to become a sniffer dog.
PC Webb said: “It didn’t take any longer to train him than the Spaniels we have, and some of those are also rescue dogs.
“We start them on toys and then train them on the scents, which they come to associate with play.
“Kos was very excitable on his first day on the job – he absolutely loves it.”
The two-and-a-half year old dog was being cared for at the RSPCA’s West Hatch Animal Rescue Centre near Taunton, Somerset, before he was taken on by police.
He now lives at home with PC Webb and his three other dogs – two of which are Spaniels training to become drugs dogs.
Experienced dog handler PC Webb, who has been working with animals for ten years, added: “What is nice for ourselves and the RSPCA is Staffordshire Terriers get such a bad name but this dog is so lovely with people and other dogs.
“There are other dogs out there that have potential we could use and it is a shame that people do not give them a chance sometimes.”
Staffordshire Bull Terriers have a bad reputation as being ‘devil dogs’ after a string of horrific attacks on children and other dogs.