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Abandoned dog becomes first explosives search Staffie in UK and now protects Royal family at major events

Roxy was rescued by the RSPCA after being abandoned in 2017

An unwanted Staffie who was rescued by the RSPCA after being abandoned has transformed into a life-saving explosives search dog who protects the Royal family.

Five-year-old Roxy was rescued by RSPCA officers after being abandoned in 2017. She was taken in by the charity’s West Hatch Animal Centre, in Somerset.

The staff - who have spent more than a decade working with police forces to identify and supply rescue dogs to training programmes - soon spotted Roxy’s potential.

Supervisor Sue Dicks, who has submitted 18 dogs to training, including six Staffies, said: “Roxy was the right age, was good around people and other dogs, and was really confident. She was also very ball-focused - something that’s really important in training - and was incredibly determined.”

She joined Avon & Somerset Police for her initial 10-week training where she learned what scents she was looking for and how to indicate the presence and location of the odours. She spent two years with the team before moving to the Hampshire and Thames Valley specialist search unit and partnering with PC Camilla Carter to complete their training in February 2020.

The new pair completed their training in February 2020 and PD Roxy became the only Staffie working as an explosives search dog in the UK as well as the only dog of her breed working within the Hampshire and Thames Valley dog unit.
Trained to detect the scent of explosives, PC Carter and PD Roxy carry out security sweeps before high-profile public events and VIP visits. They search for suspicious packages, sweep venues ahead of Royal and Ministerial visits, as well as responding to bomb threats and searching private jets.

“We work together to search for explosives in lots of circumstances, to make sure VIPs and members of the public are safe,” says Camilla. “Roxy is one of nine dogs who work on the specialist search unit and we’re responsible for high risk missing persons cases as well as counter terrorism and serious crime searches.

“Last summer, Roxy and I worked at Windsor Castle ahead of the private wedding of Princess Beatrice and Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi and, this month, we secured the local area ahead of HRH Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh’s funeral. I’m incredibly proud of her for carrying out such an important job ahead of such large events, both happy and sad.”

Roxy is one of dozens of rescue dogs who have gone on to work as sniffer dogs within different police forces across England and Wales. While many people often think of German shepherds, Labradors and spaniels working for the police, Roxy follows in the pawprints of several Staffies who have taken on crime-fighting jobs. Avon & Somerset Police took on Staffie Kos in 2012, followed two years later by rescued stray Stella and, in 2016, Boris joined the ranks too.

RSPCA dog welfare expert Dr Samantha Gaines said: “Sadly, Staffies often receive a bad reputation that they simply don’t deserve. Just like any dog, given the right upbringing and care, they can make loving family pets or, like Roxy, crime-fighting su-paw sniffer heroes!

“Unfortunately, staffies have suffered from overbreeding and bad press in recent years and we see more Staffordshire bull terriers and Staffie-crosses coming into our care than any other type of dog. But dogs like Roxy are a wonderful example of how clever Staffies can be and may help to change the public’s perception of the breed.”

PC Carter added: “Roxy is a superstar. She is intelligent, very systematic and thorough. For her, it’s all a big, fun game and she just loves to work.

“To see her working and know she’s a rescue dog whose life could have been so much different makes me so proud; it’s amazing to see her doing her job and loving it. And I love working by her side, she’s my crew mate and we have each other’s backs. I’m sure she was born to do this; I couldn’t imagine her doing anything else.”

To help the RSPCA continue rescuing, rehabilitating and rehoming animals in desperate need of care please visit our website or call our donation line on 0300 123 8181.


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