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Labrador seized in puppy farm raid becomes a sniffer dog

The raid made national headlines a year ago when South Wales Police and the RSPCA raided an address and removed 21 dogs

Bonnie, a Labrador, has joined Gloucestershire Constabulary after completing training to search for drugs, firearms, ammunition and paper cash.

It’s a life far-removed from her early beginnings as a litter of three puppies recovered from a site in South Wales last year.

The raid made national headlines a year ago when South Wales Police and the RSPCA raided an address where officers removed 21 dogs after executing a search warrant.

The animals were found to be underweight, suffering from skin conditions and were living in hazardous conditions. 

The dogs were being kept in filthy makeshift kennels and runs, some in shipping containers, and many without appropriate bedding, food or water.

The property owners were later banned by a court from keeping animals.

RSPCA Inspector Gemma Cooper, who rescued Bonnie and investigated her case, said: “I was horrified by the animals’ overall health condition and the environments in which they were being kept.

“The owners were failing to meet their needs. One pen for example - which had eight dogs in - had no space for them to get away from each other, had no comfortable area for them to rest and was full of urine and faeces.”

Bonnie was among a group of pups sent to an RSPCA centre in Somerset which has previously placed 20 rescue dogs with forces.

Initially, she was destined to become a search dog with Gloucestershire Fire and Rescue Service but due to her early life she refused to go into dark or confined spaces.

But she passed a trail for the police with flying colours and with another rescue dog began a three-month training programme with experienced dog handler PC Claire Todd and her veteran police dog - also an RSPCA rescue - PD Stella the Staffie. 

Bonnie is now one of four new recruits in the force’s dog unit and works with PC Rich Hunt alongside his general purpose dog, German Shepherd PD Django. 

“Bonnie is so loving and friendly, it’s amazing when you think about the awful start she had, but she’s so happy now,” PC Hunt said. “She’s great at her job because she loves a tennis ball and her drive for play means she has a great drive for work; it’s a big, fun game to her.”

He added: “She has a wonderful work ethic because she loves it. Soon we’ll be busy doing drug searches, warrants and supporting the police in their work.”

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