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Posted: 4th June 2021

Abandoned Staffie becomes life-saving explosives dog
Roxy with her handler, PC Camilla Carter.

Five-year-old Roxy protects the Royal Family at major events.

An abandoned Staffie that was rescued by the RSPCA has become a life-saving explosives dog.

Five-year-old Roxy has been trained to detect the scent of explosives and carries out security sweeps ahead of high profile public events and VIP visits. 

She also searches for suspicious packages and scours venues ahead of Royal visits - most recently she secured the local area ahead of HRH Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh's funeral.

Roxy was first rescued by the RSPCA in 2017 and went under the care of West Hatch Animal Centre in Devon. Having worked closely with police forces to identify and supply rescue dogs, staff soon spotted Roxy’s potential as a sniffer dog, and passed her to Avon and Somerset Police for initial training.

Over two years, Roxy learned what scents she was looking for and how to indicate the presence and location of the odours. She then joined the Hampshire and Thames Valley specialist search unit, where she completed her training with her partner, PC Camilla Carter.

In February 2020, Roxy became the only Staffie working as an explosives dog in the UK and the only dog of her breed in the Hampshire and Thames Valley Specialist Unit. Today she keeps the public safe by sniffing out bombs and protects the Royal Family ahead of ministerial visits and weddings. 

Handler PC Camilla Carter said: “We work together to search for explosives in lots of circumstances, to make sure VIPs and members of the public are safe. Roxy is one of nine dogs who work on the specialist search unit, and we're responsible for high-risk missing person cases as well as counter-terrorism and serious crime searches.

She added: "Last summer, Roxy and I worked at Windsor Castle ahead of the private wedding of Princess Beatrice and Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi and, earlier this year, we secured the local area ahead of HRH Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh's funeral. I'm incredibly proud of her for carrying out such an important job ahead of such large events, both happy and sad."

While Roxy might be the only Staffie working as an explosives dog in the UK, she is certainly not the first. She follows in the pawprints of Staffie Kos, who joined Avon & Somerset Police in 2012, followed two years later by rescued-stray Stella and, in 2016, Boris joined the ranks.

RSPCA dog welfare expert Dr Samantha Gaines said: "Sadly, Staffies often receive a bad reputation that they simply don't deserve. Just like any dog, given the right upbringing and care, they can make loving family pets or, like Roxy, crime-fighting su-paw sniffer heroes!

"Unfortunately, Staffies have suffered from overbreeding and bad press in recent years and we see more Staffordshire bull terriers and Staffie-crosses coming into our care than any other type of dog. But dogs like Roxy are a wonderful example of how clever Staffies can be and may help to change the public's perception of the breed."

Image (C) RSPCA.

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