Teuila Fuatai

Teuila Fuatai is a reporter for the NZ Herald

Cash sniffing dogs show their skills

New Zealand drug detector dogs are being trained to also sniff out illegal dosh - a move the Government and police hope will help crack down on rising levels of organised crime.

Members of the first class of "currency" dogs, which completed training this week today showed off their new skills at the Police Dog Training Centre in Upper Hutt.

Five of the 12 newly-trained canines, which will be posted with police and Customs officers around the country, were put through their paces by dog handlers.

The drug dogs who participated in the programme have been trained to also pick up the scent of cash, to sniff out travellers who may not have declared large amounts.

Police Minister Anne Tolley, who was present at the session, referred to the training "upskilling".

"They're already trained. They've just added another scent. The drug dogs could have up to nine different scents, one of them also has firearms."

The 12 dogs received their two-day training following a six-month trial ending in March Two detector dogs from police and Customs in that trial netted more than $350,000 in undeclared or concealed cash at Auckland International Airport and during search warrant executions.

Mrs Tolley said the dogs would help catch out organised criminals involved in money-laundering.

"It is growing," she said when asked about levels of organised crime in New Zealand.

"We are all very aware of that. Money-laundering is a big feature of that."

Dog handler Senior Constable Bruce Lamb, whose canine Milo is among the new cash detector dogs, said cracking down on illegal cash was important in fighting organised crime.

Money in banks and any assets involved in criminal activity could be seized so many criminals kept cash, Mr Lamb said.

"We're just finding more and more money that's hidden around houses and properties and travelling around on people.

"Everything runs on cash and they can't bank it so they have to store it somewhere," he said

Milo, a black labrador, was the only male among the newly-trained cash dogs. He could pick up around 11 scents, Mr Bruce said

- APNZ

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