Saving others after his own life was saved

By Mike Dinsdale

A puppy rescued by a Whangarei SPCA worker is now saving lives by sniffing out explosives in some of the world's war-torn danger spots.

Brutus, then four weeks old, was rescued after being found dumped at the Oakleigh Service Station in March 2011. But Whangarei SPCA animal welfare inspector Helena Sweeting quickly recognised that he was smarter than the average dog after displaying almost obsessive compulsive behaviour while chasing balls.

Ms Sweeting contacted New Zealand Detector Dogs (NZDD) in December and NZDD handler/trainer Guus Knopers later took Brutus away for intensive training to see if he had what it took to go into the bomb sniffing business. Brutus aced all those tests and an overseas army took him away.

Mr Knopers said Brutus is now a valued member of a foreign, but friendly, army detecting bombs in a far off, war-torn, country.

He can't say which foreign army Brutus is working for, or where he is based, but said he never doubted that Brutus would make it.

Mr Knopers said while Brutus would be in dangerous situations, bomb dogs were well trained and no army wanted that investment wasted, so they were well looked after and protected.

He said the company had a policy of using only rescue dogs and Brutus was among the top 5 per cent of dogs he had worked with in more than 30 years as a dog trainer.

"[The foreign army] put him through an intensive 26-week training course and he passed all the tests and is now operational for the army and deployed overseas," he said.

"It's no surprise to me that he is now operational. They came out specifically to have a look at him and they liked what they saw."

Ms Sweeting said she is so proud of "my little boy" Brutus, but a little worried for his safety given that he is in danger spots.

"It's not bad for a little rescue dog from Whangarei SPCA, is it?"

She said Brutus had something a bit special about him and she was happy he was now helping to save lives.

- Northern Advocate

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