Detective dogs who sniff at less than £1,000 a day

Detective dogs who sniff at less than £1,000 a day
28 April 2004
Daily Mail
Chris Brooke

They may only be police dogs but Eddie and Frankie are on a higher pay scale than the Chief Constable and the Prime Minister. Such is the sniffing power of these canine detectives that their force charges £1,000 when they are hired out for a single day's work. Even at that price, they are in great demand across Britain and even from Europe and the U.S.

Not only can they find a body, no matter how well it may be hidden, but they have the ability to sniff out microscopic traces of blood or human remains. They have gone under floorboards, in rivers, caves, lofts and woodland in search of bodies. Even human remains that have been buried for years will not evade them.

Eddie, a three-year-old springer spaniel and formerly an unwanted pet, teamed up with Frankie, a four-year-old border collie and former stray, when South Yorkshire Police were looking for two dogs to train for the specialist work. Now available to any force willing to pay the £1,000-a-day going rate, Eddie and Frankie are regarded as the country's premier police sniffer dogs.

Over the last year they have worked for 17 forces across the UK.

Their biggest job lasted ten days and made £10,000. They have been hired out on average twice a week - making a total of around £100,000. The revenue raised is put back into funding the force.

Handlers PC Martin Grimes[SIC s/b 'Grime'], 47, and PC John Ellis, 50, began by training the dogs in standard police techniques. They went on to develop a specialist training programme to hone the dogs' extraordinary abilities.

Eddie and Frankie have been called in to help in some of the most difficult murder cases. They were recently flown to Northern Ireland where they found the body of missing pensioner Attracta Harron, 65, buried under 18 inches of clay in a riverbank at County Tyrone.

The victim's relatives were so grateful they asked to meet the dogs.

PC Grimes said:
'It appeared to be a comfort to them. If it hadn't have been for the dogs we wouldn't have found her.'

A man has since appeared in court charged with the murder. [Trevor Hamilton, later convicted]

The dogs played a major role in locating the body of Barnsley murder victim Shane Collier, 21, who had been cut up and buried five months earlier in remote woodland.

They have been recruited to find the body of 17-year-old Charlotte Pinkney, who was killed after a party in Ilfracombe, Devon, and have been called in to help police in Northern Ireland try to solve a backlog of 150 murders stretching back 25 years.

PC Ellis, a dog handler for 25 years, said:
'They are both intelligent dogs and they do an incredible job. They have become so good that they can detect even microscopic amounts of blood or other fluids. 'In these days of DNA testing, even those amounts of material can be the difference in solving a case.

'We have to rely on investigation teams placing us in the right places, but even then it can involve searching large areas. 'The dogs work brilliantly in any terrain. One day we might be searching moorland and the next we could be in a city centre. They can also work in all weathers, although when the weather is hot we have to be aware of fatigue and rest them every 20 minutes.'

The 'superdogs for hire' scheme began after a business plan was put together by the handlers and approved by South Yorkshire Police chiefs.

PC Ellis said they expected to do 'perhaps two jobs a year,' but are currently doing two a week.

Bordie collies are recognised as the world's most intelligent breed and springer spaniels are traditionally bred as a retriever dog.

Like all dogs of their breeds, Eddie and Frankie have an acute sense of smell. The difference between them and any 'normal' sniffer dog is that they have been put through a specific and specialist training regime devised by their handlers to make them into superdogs.

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