Nine-year-old Labrador Tyke has had an illustrious canine career after being taken on for training as an 11-month-old puppy by Border Force, which carries out immigration and customs controls for people and goods entering the UK. Border Force takes on enthusiastic and energetic abandoned dogs and offers them a fulfilling and happy life.
Tyke is due to retire next year after successful service with the national CITES enforcement team at the airport. CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species) controls international trade in endangered wildlife and it is the team’s job to stop any animals or animal products protected by CITES from being smuggled into the UK.
President and CEO of IFAW, Azzedine Downes, said: “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.”
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, Tyke 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. He has enabled many successful seizures, including ivory, tiger bone plasters and reptile skin.
Border Force Senior Officer Grant Miller said: “Border Force has for many years recognised the benefit of using detector dogs to assist in securing the UK Border. 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.”
Tyke, pictured at work
Tyke’s handler, Border Force Assistant Officer Samantha Moss (31), added: “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 will receive his award at IFAW’s prestigious Animal Action Awards event, hosted by Baroness Gale and presented by TV wildlife presenter Bill Oddie.