The pooches are the best in the country at sniffing out illegal drugs or searching for a missing person
POLICE Scotlandâs dogs and their handlers have proved themselves to be the best in Britain after scooping the top award at the 2018 national police dog trials.
Dundee-based PC Peter Gargan and police dog Dale, a three-year-old German Shepherd, won the coveted Jordan Shield for Overall National Police Dog Champion, among other awards.
Chief Inspector Neil Anderson, Specialist Services Division for the North of Scotland and Dundee Dog Section said: âPolice Scotland puts a lot of work into training the police dogs and handlers and through the quality of dogs sourced and excellent instruction, the results obtained from our police dog handlers in an operational context is outstanding.â
But while sniffing out illegal drugs or searching for a missing person are serious matters, I discovered that Scotlandâs PC Pooches donât mind having a bit of fun on the beat too.
I might not look like an international drug smuggler with my Specsavers glasses and Marks & Spencers flannel shirt â but Archie and Muck werenât fooled.
After just one sniff, the two Spaniels instantly knew I was packing cocaine.
Not even my smelly socks â where Iâd stuffed the Class A drugs â put them off their stride.
And thatâs when my checked collar was well and truly felt.
I joined Police Scotlandâs Dog Handlers as they took their canine recruits on routine training.
The scene of the sting wasnât exactly the South American jungles of Netflix hit Narcos â more like Braehead Shopping Centre near Glasgow.
It might not have rivalled the infamous busts on Pablo Escobar but it was this smugglerâs first encounter with Class A gear.
The dog handlersâ van was like a dodgy pick and mix with bags of heroin, MDMA and methamphetamine all laid out on the table.
Cocaine was the lucky winner stuffed down the sock whilst the other decoys filled their pockets with different substances.
INSPECTOR Leigh McManus leads the dog unit for the West of Scotland and took great pleasure in the Braehead bust.Heâs always impressed by these canine powerhouses, known as General Purpose dogs, and how much they enjoy being on patrol.
He said: âThe second they put on their harness they know itâs time to work. âBut the dog isnât thinking theyâve found drugs, theyâre thinking about getting their ball.
â Itâs all a game to them. Itâs time to play and thatâs their reward.
âWe have about 50 drugs dogs in Scotland and they are trained to find all illegal drugs. There could be an operation at T In The Park or they could be called to assist in searching houses or if cops stop a car to search it.
âA dog is the equivalent of ten police officers in terms of the ground they can cover and what they can detect.â
On one of their refresher days, the dogs patrolled a busy escalator in Braehead as part of their drug sniffing training.
Most punters fawned over the dogs when they got to the bottom but a couple looked like they were worried the dog would find out they partied a little too hard at the weekend.
After the dogs had a quick whiff of folk, theyâd go back to their usual playful ways.
But when a dodgy boy from Paisley nervously approached the pooches, their crimefighting instincts kicked in.
Plucky pups Muck and Archie both successfully carried out the bust.
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They do this by having a quick sniff and following the culprit until they pap themselves down in front of them until their handler arrives.
Their reward? A tennis ball.
Once their harness goes on they know itâs business time â not play time.
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