Revenue spends €130,000 on seven new detector dogs in 2017

By Gordon Deegan

The Revenue Commissioners last year spent €130,000 towards the purchase of seven new detector dogs and training its detector dog unit.

New documents released by the Revenue show that it paid UK firm, Wagtail UK Ltd €99,628 for detector dogs in the final quarter of last year alone.

The firm specialises in detection dogs trained for detecting drugs, tobacco, cash and explosives.

The new recruits to the Revenue’s highly successful dog detection unit are springer spaniels, Bailey, Bill, Flynn and Robbie along with Labradors, Blue, Luca and Eva.

Already Bailey, Bill, Blue, Flynn, Luca and Robbie have been drafted into on Revenue’s 20 strong dog detector team.

Eva is shortly due to replace Harvey (pictured below).

The dogs are joining one of the most important tools in the Revenue's armoury against smugglers, drug dealers and other criminals.

Between 2014 and 2016, dog detector teams were involved in the seizure of €79.3m in illicit goods made up of €55m in tobacco products; €22m in drugs and €2.2m in cash.

Revenue officer Paul McPartlan, who is involved in co-ordinating the Detector Dog programme, said today: “Revenue recognises the success of the Detector Dog Programme. The teams operate very effectively detecting smuggled drugs, tobacco products, and cash.

He said: "These detector teams are an important part of our overall framework to identify and challenge shadow economy activity. Our dog handlers are committed to caring for their charges and justifiably proud of the results they achieve. We value our canine colleagues as a versatile, reliable and cost-effective resource.”

Last June, detector dog, Alfie shortly before his retirement from the unit helped to sniff out €1m worth of tobacco at Rosslare, while colleague, Meg was involved in a €1m seizure of cocaine and cannabis in Blanchardstown last November.

That same month, Stella helped to sniff out €160,000 worth of herbal cannabis at the Portlaoise mail centre the same month.

Aware of possible threats by criminals against its dog-force, a Revenue spokesman said today that for “operational and security reasons, Revenue does not provide performance statistics in respect of individual detector dogs”.

He said: “Detector dog teams are a national resource."

Dogs to retire in 2017 were springer spaniels, Alfie, Ollie and Ralph.

The spokesman pointed out that “Detection dogs normally begin their working life aged around eighteen months. Their careers will normally span six to eight years, subject to continuing good health. When our dogs retire, they usually remain in the care of their handler”.

He said: “Revenue does not provide details of the age or location of our detector dogs, working or in retirement. Again, this is for operational and security reasons.”

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