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Drugs expert Scooby and the 'money man' Barney among vital sniffer dogs

Sniffer dogs are vital in helping to crack cases with their unmatched ability to identify concealed cash, drugs and cigarettes.

There are currently 16 trained sniffer dogs working for the Revenue at different locations throughout the country.

The dogs are initially trained in the UK then come to Ireland to be paired with their handler and spend a further six to eight weeks training together before beginning work.

Shay Doyle, Manager of Customs Enforcement at Dublin Airport, explained to the Herald how the training process works.

"The dogs are trained on a reward basis. When they correctly identify that drugs or cash have been concealed they are rewarded with play time where they get to play fetch with a tennis ball with their handler," he said.


"They train with their handler for a number of weeks, usually at least six, before they begin working so that they can bond and get used to each other.

"The handlers need to be in tune with the dogs and learn their traits and behaviours so that they can recognise indicators that the dog has found something."

The sniffer dogs work eight-hour shifts most days, get regular breaks and rest days and usually work for approximately seven years before retiring. They are continuously trained so as to keep them fresh and attuned to finding whichever substance they are taught to find.

Scooby, a black Labrador who is almost two years old, is one of Revenue's newest recruits and is trained to sniff out drugs.

He's incredibly playful but once his harness goes on he's all business, spending his days sniffing luggage, cargo and people for any concealed drugs.

Barney, a springer spaniel, is the so called 'money man' as he is trained to specifically identify cash. He recently won the Irish Kennel Club's Golden Paw Hero Dog Award.

One huge haul occurred in 2008 when a man concealed ¤700,000 among two t-shirts in one suitcase which was discovered during a routine search of checked-in luggage by a customs cash detection dog.

On August 3, officers from Revenue's Customs Service in Rosslare Europort, seized €38,370 when they stopped and searched a male passenger.

Cash sniffer dog, Alfie, was vital in the seizure and gave an indication that the cash was discovered in the luggage of the Polish national.

The cash was then seized in accordance with the proceeds of crime legislation.

Shay can't praise the dogs enough.

"They are a national asset. We'd be lost without them," he said.