Police dogs sniff out a well-earned retirement

Retiring police dogs Cracka, Snoop and Billy.

Retiring police dogs Cracka, Snoop and Billy.

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Three police sniffer dogs responsible for seizing more than £6million in cash have hung up their collars.

Northumbria Police is saying goodbye to Cracka, Snoop and Billy, who retire this week after each dedicating nearly a decade of service to the force.

All three have regularly been involved in the region's football matches, the Rugby World Cup, the Olympics and large-scale protests held across the force.

They have frequently been deployed at ferry terminals as well as to support Custom and Excise, Special Branch and Northumbria Police officers based at Newcastle International Airport.

But they have been most valuable when it comes to stopping some of the region's most prolific criminals by sniffing out evidence used to convict offenders.

Between the three cocker spaniels, approximately £6million in cash was seized, as was hundreds of kilograms of drugs and thousands of weapons. They also tracked a huge haul of stolen goods in over a decade of service.

Cracka even helped sniff out more than £110,000 in just a single operation.

But now he, his brother Snoop and Billy are set for a long rest in front of the fire as they look forward to the first Christmas of their hard-earned retirement.

Dog Sergeant Julie Neve said: "All three of the dogs have a fantastic work ethic and really enjoyed their role supporting our officers on their operations.

"We are always sad to see our dogs retire but it is hard earned with each of them putting in nearly a decade of service to the force.

"Cracker and Snoop will be adopted by their handlers while Billy has already been found a loving home where he can spend his retirement in peace."

Operations Chief Inspector John Heckels added: "Our police dogs are crucial when it comes to securing the evidence needed to put offenders before the courts and ultimately behind bars.

"Their work helps make our region safe and these animals are an important tool when it comes to policing large scale events across the force area.

"Cracka, Snoop and Billy are great examples of the work being done in our dog section and are a credit to our dog handlers and dog trainers.

"They will always go the extra mile and will take these animals into their homes to make sure they meet the high standard expected at Northumbria Police."

All three of the dogs graduated from their police training on December 12, 2007, after a training period within the force that sometimes takes up to 18 months if the dogs if they join the police as an infant pup.

The force currently has 90 animals in the dog section including specialist including 12 drugs, cash and weapon detection dogs and 40 general purpose police dogs.

There are also a selection of other specialist animals with five explosive detection dogs, five forensic evidence dogs and eight firearms support dogs.