Labrador To Sniff Out Narcotics On Hospital Wards

Following a tough training regime with police experts

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She may be cute but don’t be fooled by appearances Poppy, who works for South West London and St George's Mental Health NHS Trust (SWLSTG), has got a very serious job to do – keeping hospital wards free of narcotics.

The 15-month-old pedigree Labrador has just completed her Basic Narcotics Proactive Course and has joined her partner Paddy in the only Metropolitan Police-licensed NHS narcotics search dog team in the country.

 Paddy, who has been hard at work since May 2010, Poppy and their handler, Julie Traynor, have now started work at the St George's Trust and other NHS facilities around London.

Julie said: “Poppy is a natural for the job. She’s stubborn, gentle and also very brave all of which are ideal attributes for narcotics work and working in hospitals.

“She’s very popular with patients and staff and she gets along with Paddy as well.”

The tough training regime saw Poppy, whose kennel name is Hawksmeadow Aura but was named Poppy after a vote of SWLSTG’s patients and staff, and Julie put through their paces by police experts.

They had to board helicopters, planes and boats and go into car parks and busy train stations to show they could work effectively and sniff out Class A and B drugs in a variety of situations without getting distracted.

Having completed the first nine-week course Poppy is qualified to search property but in a couple of months’ time she will go back to learn how to search people.

To begin, Poppy will work with and learn from Paddy, but increasingly she will take over from the seven-year-old Springer Spaniel who is due to retire when he is nine.

The pair will work in all of SWLSTG’s wards but they are also hired out to other hospitals and are available for work in other premises.

In addition to her role in sniffing out trouble, Poppy is also part of the Trust’s therapeutic offer, visiting wards and bringing a smile to the faces of service users, carers, families and staff.

Away from work Julie adds: “It’s like living and working with children. For a little while everything is quiet and then they explode into noise and action. But Poppy’s already in charge - she’s definitely an Alpha female.”

August 5, 2014