Pooch Sandy on the scent of drug money

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The Independent Online

A determined sniffer dog which can pick up the scent of drug money has been unveiled as the government's latest weapon in the battle against drugs.

A determined sniffer dog which can pick up the scent of drug money has been unveiled as the government's latest weapon in the battle against drugs.

Sandy, a two and a half-year-old Labrador, is one of two specially trained currency dogs working at airports across Britain. They use their noses to find the proceeds of drug deals hidden in hand luggage, on aircraft, in containers and even on passengers.

Sandy and fellow currency dog Bodie, a three-year-old cocker spaniel, were both homeless before joining Customs and Excise and undergoing an eight-month, £15,000 training scheme to enable them to detect the smell of large sums of cash.

They have found £500,000, including one £100,000 find, in 88 detections since the year-long currency dog trial was begun in June, said Martin Russell, head of the Customs and Excise Dog Service.

Both Sandy and Bodie, who can expect to work until they are about eight years old, were officially introduced to the public by Paymaster General Dawn Primarolo at a travel show in West London's Olympia.

Sandy's handler Paul Farrell, 29, said the dogs regarded the job as a big game of hide and seek.

"We trained them on sterling currency that has been chopped up to playing-card size and hidden in different samples in various places," he said.

"When they find the money they are rewarded. My dog barks and wags his tail and then will start to dig when he smells something. Then he will be rewarded with a toy, bone or shoe to play with."

The dogs are deployed after intelligence has been received and work trained to cause minimum dsitress to the journey of the honest traveller.

The dogs can be used in up to nine daily searches, usually targeting flights from Latin America and the Caribbean.

Although officials are uncertain how the dogs can detect large denominations of notes they believe it may be due to the smell of the ink used.

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