28 April 2005 | Liam O'Brien
Booming demand for security dogs has caused a national shortage of man's best friend for policing and other duties.
Prices for a trained animal are now between £6,000 and £10,000, according to breeders and handlers.
Heightened safety concerns have prompted an increasing number of organisations to use dogs for purposes including detecting explosives and smuggling prevention, as well as crowd control.
Prices for a trained dog have rocketed from around £1,000 three years ago (see News, 27 November 2003).
Steven Allen, governor of HM Prison Dogs, which advises and sources dogs for the prison service, said: "It's far more difficult to find dogs since the September attacks 11 in the US. Now private security firms and foreign governments also want to tap into UK breeding expertise."
A trained explosives search dog can now be sold abroad for up to £6,000, said Allen.
And Keith MacKenzie, former head of the Metropolitan Police Dog Training School and now managing director of Canine Defensive Search Specialists, said that trained narcotics dog were now selling for "£10,000 and upwards".