Sniffer dogs up and down the UK are being used in the fight against illegal tobacco sales.
Throughout their working careers, Ted and Buster (pictured) have successfully prevented the sale of millions of pounds of illegal tobacco known to contain unregulated and potentially harmful ingredients. Buster by name buster by nature!
In their most recent outing, the dogs have been deployed in Northumberland in the towns of Blyth, Seaton Delaval, Lynemouth and Berwick with a small seizure being made in Berwick.
Spaniel Buster, and Ted, a rescue Labrador cross were deployed by Housing & Public Protection and Trading Standards in unannounced searches. The dogs were specially trained by Wagtail UK who provide detection dogs for government agencies such as HMRC, Trading Standards, UK Border Force, the armed forces and the Police.
Dogs from Wagtail uncovered a staggering 5 tonnes of illegal tobacco and over 2 million illegal cigarettes in a single 4 day period last month.
5 TONNES of Illegal Tobacco— Wagtail UK (@WagtailUK_dogs) 16 April 2019
OVER 2 MILLION Illegal Cigarettes
Found in last 4 days by Wagtail #illegaltobacco #snifferdogs
Video:’Buster’ with another massive find
Award winning Wagtail detection dog teams doing their job with massive success for government agencies #usethebest pic.twitter.com/x8PzX9nle9
Northumberland County Councillor John Riddle, cabinet member for housing, planning and resilience said:
“The sale of illegal tobacco not only avoids taxation, it undermines legitimate businesses in the county that abide by the law and puts money into the hands of criminals.
“ Far from being a victimless crime, cheap tobacco makes it easier for children to start smoking, takes advantage of cash-strapped families, and helps fund organised crime.
“What is not always understood by users of cheap tobacco, is that it often contains higher levels of toxic ingredients, thereby increasing the existing risk of illness and disease from smoking. Fake cigarettes also present a higher fire risk as they will not, unlike a genuine cigarette, self-extinguish if not actively smoked, which could have disastrous consequences both for the user and their family!
“ On a positive note, having undertaken a number of visits across Northumberland, the dogs only found a small amount of illegal tobacco. This is encouraging news and indicates to me that traders are operating their businesses in accordance with the law and in doing so are not placing the residents of Northumberland at risk. The illegal tobacco trade will remain a priority for the council and we will continue to carry out spot searches at future dates and locations across the county.”
Despite their success, dogs in this line of work also need their own protection and should be suitably recognised. Earlier this year, Scamp, a springer spaniel sniffer dog was hunted by a gang who placed a £25,000 bounty on his head. Scamp had previously sniffed out six million pounds worth of illegal goods.
Sniffer dogs are not only used to fight crime, but they also help with the protection of wildlife and help with ecological surveys. Dogs from Wagtail have also been used to detect great crested newts and bats on building development sites so they can be safely relocated before building starts.
Great work Ted, Buster and all the other service and working dogs out there.