West Hatch Animal Centre

Another Sniffer dog success for West Hatch

RSPCA West Hatch Animal Centre is celebrating as Stella the Staffordshire bull terrier became the 12th dog they have successfully rehomed to the police force, and the fourth Staffie or Staffie cross they have rehomed as a sniffer dog.

Stella came to the centre after she was found straying.  RSPCA inspector Jo Daniel picked her up and traced her owner, but sadly they didn’t want her back.

Kennel Supervisor Sue Dicks said: “At first, Stella had no bite inhibition and would grab hands really hard. It was due to this that I began to work with her, so she had something else to focus her energy on.”

From her work with other potential sniffer dogs, Sue quickly realised that Stella had a good search drive, and developed this. When Stella was ready Sue asked PC Lee Webb from Avon and Somerset Police to come and assess her and he agreed she was worth taking on.

Stella was then placed with handler PC Claire Todd from Gloucester Police (pictured), and began her training. She graduated on 9 April after completing the six-week course in just four weeks. 

Stella had her first live search on 10 April and she found £200 of cash hidden inside a drawer.  She is trained to search for drugs including heroin, cocaine and ecstasy; money including Sterling and Euros; and guns and ammunition.

PC Todd said: “Stella is such an intelligent little dog - she flew through all the training and clearly enjoyed every minute of it.   She gets so excited when I put my uniform on at home, she can’t wait to come to work each day.  I am truly so lucky to have her and I am so grateful to Sue for contacting the police about Stella.  Sue clearly has a great eye for what we need in a search dog.  

“Stella works shifts alongside myself and Duke, my German shepherd dog.  She is used for any drugs warrants that are being carried out at premises during the day or night.  She is used to search cars that are suspected of having any of the above substances inside and can also search outside areas. 

“I am extremely pleased to be working with Stella - she is an amazing little dog and I am so proud of her.  She’s even fitted in well at home with my other five dogs including Duke who does not get on with other dogs after he was attacked. I introduced Duke to Stella over an eight week period to gain his confidence and she has been fantastic with him - they are now best friends. 

“Stella is really enjoying life, she doesn’t realise how important her job is – to her it’s just a fun game where she gets rewarded with her ball.”