Search Dog of the Year 2013, Billy, with handler Dave Smythies, left, and governor Andy Lattimore. Picture by Robin Crossley.
A SEARCH dog and his prison officer handler walked all over the competition to be named service dog champions for the second year running.
Eight-year-old English springer spaniel, Billy, and his handler, Dave Smythies, a supervising officer specialist dog handler with HMP Isle of Wight, took part in the British Police and Services Canine Association Service Dog Trials.
They were presented with their championship trophy last Friday by prison governor, Andy Lattimore.
The competition challenges dog and handler duos from up to 36 agencies, including police, armed forces, fire service and the Border Agency, to search out drugs.
The Islanders were the only pair to successfully hunt out all of the packages.
Dave said: "It’s timed and the dog searches a 24-room building and it’s my job to control it and make sure nothing is missed.
"It’s very much a team effort, not least with our area lead trainer, David Neale, who put a lot of effort in to get us to the standard."
Dave has been a prison officer for 22 years, a dog handler for 13 and has worked with Billy for the last three years.
He said: "Gun dogs have very good noses and a very strong work ethic and bond very easily with their handlers. He lives with me and my other search dog, Fagan, a black Labrador, at my home.
"He is a very calm and gentle dog but when he’s given the command to work, he’s very motivated and driven and it is all he wants to do."
A prison spokesperson said: "It is a great honour for HMP Isle of Wight and demonstrates the hard work and commitment from staff at the prison in protecting the public and reducing reoffending. This award shows this good work to be recognised."