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Wednesday, December 9, 1998 Published at 18:04 GMT


Death threats for drugs dog

Scooby's super-sensitive snout has sniffed out drugs valued at 300,000

The BBC's Jane Peel reports
A police working dog called Scooby has been so successful in detecting illegal drugs and bringing offenders to justice that criminals have put out a contract on him.

Special security measures have had to be put in place at his home and on one occasion armed police were sent out to protect him.

[ image: Scooby on prison patrol]
Scooby on prison patrol
The drugs buster has sniffed out heroin, ecstasy and cocaine valued at 300,000 on inmates and visitors at Garth Prison near Preston where the seven-year-old works.

His success rate has dramatically reduced the amount of drugs going into the prison.

Dog handler John Reader said that over the last four years, Scooby has been responsible for the arrest of more than 150 visitors.

"There are only seven of those that haven't received a prosecution of some description or other, and we've had sentences handed out of up to and including five years," said Mr Reader.

But Scooby's good work has put him in the doghouse with drug barons.

Inmates at Garth Prison have reportedly left notes in the jail's mail box threatening to stab him, and informants outside the jail have told the authorities that Scooby must die.

Inspector Neil Middleham from Lancashire Police said he has taken the death threats seriously.

"We put special security measures in at Scooby's home and we told all our patrols about the issue," he said.

Scooby will soon be forced into retirement, not because of the threats to his life, but because of a hereditary illness, which means he is gradually losing his sight.

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