Dogs online exhibition
Photograph courtesy of the Liverpool Daily Post & Echo
Not all dogs are kept as pampered family pets, some are highly trained and intelligent working animals. Sniffer dogs have been helping to safeguard our ports and airports for many years.
Each dog works with a handler from UK Border Agency to detect hidden objects including drugs, weapons and other smuggled goods.
One dog handler describes how her sniffer dog helped to make an important discovery on a ship from South America:
"It is routine to work a dog on ships that dock in Liverpool, especially if the ships are from countries that are known for the growing and manufacture of drugs. So it was part of an average day, that I found myself and my drug detector dog 'Otto' (a German short haired pointer) on a ship carrying copper and containers from South America.
As part of the routine, we always start searching the crew accommodation first, which includes some communal areas like changing rooms, laundry and toilets. It was whilst one of the Customs anti smuggling rummagers was searching a bathroom ceiling, that some packages were found in a purpose made waistcoat with many pockets. The packages proved to be cocaine.
As it was only a small amount, the thought was that there must be a larger amount somewhere on board the ship. Because ships are so big, detector dogs become a valuable asset, as a dog can cover a much bigger area in a short space of time.
After a few hours, nothing was found, but some of the crew were watching our every move. The copper and some of the containers were to be discharged at Liverpool, so it was decided to check all the containers. Otto had done many containers before, so he knew exactly how to search each one. He runs down the middle to the back, searches all the back, and then searches the sides, and the front, and finally ends in the middle.
In one particular container, which had large cardboard boxes, stacked about 1 metre high, Otto did his usual route of walking straight down the middle. But he didn't make it to the back! Otto stopped dead, about half way down the container and started sniffing loudly and swaying from side to side in one small area. He then started to look at me and then look down at the boxes, he was really wagging his tail. He wouldn't come away from that spot, and he started sneezing, so I climbed in the container with a torch to have a closer look. In between some of the boxes, tightly wedged in, I could see a large plastic bag with a knot in it.
My Customs colleagues removed the bag, after forensic tests had taken place, to reveal several brown tape wrapped packages inside which weighed 65 kilogrammes. One package was opened to reveal white powder, which was tested, and proved to be cocaine, of a very high purity. The drugs were destined for the streets of the North West, and after some further investigation, several arrests were made, and those responsible are serving lengthy prison sentences.
Why did Otto sneeze so much? He doesn't normally do that. In between each layer of the brown tape sprinkled on to the sticky side, was a very large amount of black pepper, to try and put detector dogs off the scent. Luckily for me it would take a lot more than pepper to put Otto off!"
The photograph shows a dog handler from Manchester airport with her dog on a visit to the Seized! gallery.
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