SCAMP, the Welsh sniffer dog so successful that smugglers put a price on his head, has won a prestigious award.
Earlier this year, ASH Wales revealed that Scamp had sniffed out £6million worth of illegal tobacco during his six-year career, leading a criminal gang to put a £25,000 bounty on his head.
And now, the springer spaniel’s exceptional talents have been recognised by the Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI) who have awarded him this year’s Institutes Hero award.
Scamp’s owner Stuart Phillips, who runs B.W.Y Canine in Pembrokeshire, and who trained him to sniff out tobacco as a puppy, said he was ‘exceptionally proud’ that his star pupil had scooped the award:
“I feel exceptionally proud to own, train and work with Scamp. Dogs like him do not come along very often and to have received the Institutes Hero Award is amazing. Scamp has made an unrivalled impression on consumer protection in the UK working with Trading Standards and I’m so glad he’s been recognised.”
Since starting out Scamp, who is also trained to sniff out cash, has worked with over 100 Trading Standards services across the UK sniffing out huge hauls of tobacco from even the hardest to find hiding places as well as wads of cash worth up to £60,000.
His success, says Stuart, is down to his natural hunting instincts and strong worth ethic, which his owner spotted right from the start, after taking him on as a puppy:
“As a dog trainer and dog handler you can only work with what you’ve got. Scamp came from a family who couldn’t cope with him and from day one I knew he was a good dog. Training Scamp is relatively easy, he is a dog that wants to work and he learns pretty quickly. Training him was the easy part, Scamp does all the hard work, sniffing out the illegal tobacco, which the majority of the time is very sophisticatedly hidden.”
However, despite his success, Scamp has his feet firmly on the ground, preferring to stay well out of the limelight as Stuart describes:
“Scamp is a unique dog, he’s actually quite an unsociable dog and doesn’t really like any attention, he just does his job and does it very well. He leads a relatively simple life. He goes to work, does an amazing job and when he returns home all he wants to do is sleep on the sofa and go out down the fields to feed the chickens and annoy the geese we have.
“Almost all of our other dogs love to have attention and a fuss and you always know they’re there, but Scamp is not like this, he is a simple, but highly successful search dog.”
ASH Wales is leading the campaign to tackle the problem of illegal tobacco in Wales. A survey carried out by ASH Wales in 2014 revealed that up to 15% of all tobacco sold in Wales, around 1 million cigarettes a day, is illegal, the highest level in the UK.
Meanwhile 45% of all smokers in Wales have been offered illegal tobacco and 70% of buyers agree that it allows them to smoke when they can’t afford it.