By Salina Patel
Tyke who is due to retire next year after protecting the UK borders for more than eight years has been "a dream to work with" says handler and Border Force assistant officer Samantha Moss
A sniffer dog at Heathrow airport who is due to retire after more than eight years on the force has been named animal of the year.
Labrador Tyke is nine-years-old and has been protecting UK borders since he was rescued from Battersea Dogs Home as an 11-month-old puppy.
He was trained to sniff out illegal wildlife and animal products being smuggled in through the west London airport and has been working with Border Force officers and the CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species) enforcement team.
His barking mad canine career will be recognised at the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW,) Animal Action Awards ceremony, at the House of Lords next Tuesday (21).
Tyke’s handler, Border Force assistant officer Samantha Moss , 31, said: “Tyke has been a dream to work with.
"He is such a smart and enthusiastic dog and picked things up very quickly. He has done really well.
"Despite getting older he still loves the job but we are gradually getting him used to his upcoming retirement when he will be able to relax at home in comfort with me for the rest of his days.”
Tyke was originally trained to detect products of animal origin in response to health issues such as avian flu and foot and mouth disease and the need to control imports of food.
He was given additional training as a wildlife detector dog to sniff out both live animals and products from endangered species, including tortoises, birds, mammals, ivory, rhino horn, pangolin, caviar, corals, traditional Chinese medicines, feathers and furs.
During his career he has had many successful seizures including ivory, tiger bone plasters and reptile skin.
President and CEO of IFAW, Azzedine Downes, added: “We are delighted to be able to recognise the fantastic achievements of Tyke as he supports the vital work of Border Force in helping stop illegal wildlife trade.
"Tyke is a very worthy winner of our Animal of the Year Award.”
Tyke is reaching the end of his job as a dog detector and will leave next year.
Border Force Senior Officer Grant Miller said: “Tyke has protected the UK from both public health risks but also in recent years he has helped fight the illegal wildlife trade.
"It is a fitting tribute for his years of service that his work is recognised today.”
The awards event will be hosted by Baroness Gale and presented by TV wildlife presenter Bill Oddie on October 21.