Trainee sniffer dog Barney sacked after biting handler at Staffordshire jail


A puppy training to be a prison sniffer dog has been sacked – for being too ferocious.

Labrador Barney was taken in by HMP Dovegate, which caters for many of North Staffordshire’s criminals.

But the 10-month-old canine failed to make the grade after sinking his teeth into his handler’s wrist and stomach, according to reports in the Sunday Mirror.

It has now been decided that he doesn’t have the right temperament to be a guard dog at the jail near Uttoxeter, which is run by private firm Serco.

Prison director Claire Pearson said: “Barney, a 10-month-old Labrador, came from a rescue home and was being trained as a drug detection dog.

“One day when he was training with one of our handlers, he bit him when trying to leave his kennel. Our handler went to hospital for a tetanus jab, but is fine.

“As a result, it’s been decided that his temperament is not suitable for working in the prison, so I’m delighted to say we have found him a suitable home with an experienced owner on a smallholding, where we hope Barney will be very happy.”

Barney launched the attack when a prison officer entered his kennel to give him water. He tried to bolt out of the door and sank his teeth into the handler when they attempted to stop him.

An insider told the Sunday Mirror: “Dovegate is full of tough men – but apparently, Barney the puppy was just too ferocious.”

There are more than 800 trained sniffer dogs working in prisons across England and Wales. At least 170 drugs dogs were added last year to help improve security.



HMP Dovegate

The rollout finished just before the first coronavirus lockdown in March 2020.

In 2019/20, dogs stopped more than 2,000 illegal items, including over 100 kilograms of drugs such as heroin, getting into prisons.

Mick Pimblett, from the Prison Officers’ Association, said: “Well trained prison dogs make a huge difference to security inside jails.”

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