In three years, Peter the Customs dog sniffed out 85 cases of drugs and undeclared cash

Malta’s Customs dog, Peter has been awarded for being the best service dog this year.

Over the last three years since he has been in service he has sniffed out more than €600,000 in undeclared cash, 150 kilos tobacco, two packets of cocaine and another packet of cannabis.

A crew from TVM went to watch Peter during one of his daily training sessions along with seven other dogs, who are helping to reduce contraband by air and sea to Malta as much as possible.

Although he is only five years old, Peter is one of the most efficient “officials” within the department.

Hillary Fenech said that the Customs dogs go through a long training process, during which they focus on two specific areas, namely searching for money, drugs and tobacco.

He said that this is the most crucial phase in the development of these dogs.

“The dogs begin at around 11 months…from 11 months onwards they are still novices..what we call green dogs. Then they spend around 12 – 13 weeks with the instructor and go with a handler for around 5 weeks to build synergy and to become the team we need as a squad.”

Fenech said that the dog is trained to sniff items in different situations, some of which represent a great challenge.

“We put them on the ground, as well as on heights, so that the dog does not just get used to sniffing on the ground. Plus he needs to be capable of sniffing people, searching in suitcases, searching while people are around when there are a lot of distractions and noise, with people passing by and even cars.  We go near the catamaran as well so we have cars passing right by us…we need to train the dogs not to be afraid.”

Peter, who is of the Springer breed, works with seven other dogs to supervise the arrival and departure of passengers through the Malta International Airport and those who pass through the catamaran terminal.

Their work is to sniff out the luggage and what the passengers are carrying to fulfil the mission of the Maltese Customs Department, so that those passing to and from our country do not engage in contraband trafficking.