Smugglers trying to sneak 44,560 cigarettes into Ireland from the Canary Islands have been rumbled thanks to Blue Cross dog Frankie.
The one-year-old cocker spaniel crossbreed sniffed the criminals out at Dublin Airport, leading to the discovery of the stash, which had a retail value of €20,321.
The cigarettes were seized in two separate operations at the airport and two men were arrested.
Frankie is the second Blue Cross dog to get a job with the Irish Revenue’s Customs Service. The first was Ralph, who discovered 53kg of cannabis resin worth €319,000 during a stop and search of a car at Rosslare Europort.
Choosing a working home for Frankie
Frankie came to the Blue Cross rehoming centre in Southampton because he had so much energy and his owners couldn’t give him the attention he needed.
Lara Alford, manager at our Southampton centre, says: “As soon as we met him we realised how sociable and intelligent Frankie was, and he was incredibly motivated by toys. When he was playing with his ball, nothing else around him mattered.
“With dogs like Frankie, we often try to find them working homes because they need a lot of stimulation and they can struggle in a family environment.
“We made a film of Frankie in action and sent it to Wagtail UK Ltd, a company which trains and provides specialist detection dogs for UK and international operations.”
Training Frankie for the job
A team from Wagtail came to meet Frankie and thought he might be suitable for a working role, so they arranged for him to go to their purpose-built training centre.
Helen Evans, the specialist dog handler and trainer who worked with him, says: “Frankie is like no other dog I have trained before and, initially, I struggled to take to him. But by the end, I would love to have kept him.
“Frankie was the dog who, out of all the dogs I have trained, would make me laugh at the same time as making me cry!
“He was incredibly bright and often too bright for us handlers and, in the beginning stages, it felt like Frankie was training us! He was incredibly cheeky and loved to search. His motivation was fantastic and he loved the reward playtime.”
Frankie is now the fourth Blue Cross dog who has gone on to have a successful working career after training at Wagtail.
Helen adds: “I know that Frankie will make headlines and continue to strive as a detection dog.”
Last year Blue Cross used its tailor made rehoming service to find the right match for more than 8,000 abandoned and unwanted pets. We rely on public support to fund our work – if you’d like to help, please make a donation.