Tributes after hero sniffer dog who became scourge of drug dealers passes away

Tributes have been paid to a popular sniffer dog who became the scourge of drug dealers and violent criminals across Hucknall, Bulwell and the rest of Nottinghamshire.

Monday, 11th October 2021, 8:07 am
Updated Monday, 11th October 2021, 8:25 am
Sniffer dog Mij has passed away after years of outstanding service

Mij, an English springer spaniel, has passed away after more than nine years of service with Nottinghamshire Police after joining the force as a puppy.

In that time time on duty he sniffed out many thousands of pounds’ worth of drugs, took guns and ammunition of the streets and was even drafted in to help police the 2012 London Olympics.

After enjoying a happy retirement with new owners, Mij passed away on Tuesday last week at the grand old age of 17-and-a-half.

His former handler, retired PC Stu Hazard, said: “Like a lot of spaniels Mij was absolutely crazy. He really wasn’t the most obedient dog at all – but he was absolutely stunning at what he was trained to do, which was to sniff out drugs, cash, firearms and ammunition.

“Over the years we spent together he sniffed out probably hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of drugs – in cars, in houses and even in dark fields. He was that good as a sniffer dog that it was pretty much impossible to hide anything from him.

“People would try to hide drugs in all sorts of places – in car door panels, inside a gearstick housing, in plug sockets and under floorboards, but Mij would find them every single time.

“I remember one search we did at a garage where somebody had tried to hide a bag of drugs in a big tub of coffee. They clearly assumed that the smell of the coffee would mask the smell of the drugs, but the thing with police dogs is they are trained only to sniff out a limited number of scents and they really aren’t interested in anything else. They also do it all for a tennis ball.

“Another time I remember we chased a lad on suspicion of drugs offences. When we caught up with him he had nothing on him, but we were pretty sure he’d thrown something on the ground nearby. However it was pitch black and we had absolutely no hope of finding it ourselves. Mij sniffed out a bag of drugs almost as soon as he was let off the lead.”

Mij’s exploits – and his loving bond with PC Hazard – were featured in several television documentaries – at least one of which must have been seen by an unlucky Nottingham drug dealer.

PC Hazard explained: “This car had been pulled over and the officers were holding four lads inside as me and Mij arrived at the scene. I remember the driver looking at us both, shaking his head and saying that he’d seen us on TV.

“He knew instantly he was in trouble so when I asked him if he had any drugs in the car he just came straight out with it and showed us a bag of cocaine hidden in the footwell. He knew he had nowhere to go and just came out with it. I remember thinking that was a real compliment.”

The dog’s reputation, however was well earned. Other significant finds over the years included a gun used in an armed robbery that had been buried in a garden, and two live rounds of ammunition found under a paving slab and a wheelie bin.

His career, however, wasn’t entirely without risk and his work could occasionally throw up some unexpected challenges – including from a giant snake.