In 2017, the RSPCA in Somerset took in an abandoned brindle and white Staffie. Today that rescue pup, now five years old, is the only one of her breed working as an explosives detection dog in the U.K.
So, how did Roxy the Staffordshire Terrier go from hopeless to hero? Her story of redemption will not only make you smile, but also give you hope for abandoned dogs and the rescuers looking out for them.
A New Path For An Abandoned Dog
Staff at the RSPCA’s West Hatch Animal Centre have spent over a decade working with the police to identify rescue dogs who would make great recruits. Right away, they saw potential in Roxy. Supervisor Sue Dicks explained to Metro News:
“Roxy was the right age, was good around people and other dogs, and was really confident. She was also very ball-focused – something that’s really important in training – and was incredibly determined.”
First, Roxy trained for 10 weeks with Avon & Somerset Police, where she learned which scents to sniff out and how to alert handlers to those odors’ presence and locations. She spent two years with that team before moving to the Hampshire and Thames Valley specialist search unit.
There, Roxy partnered with PC Camilla Carter to complete their training in February 2020. PC Carter is Roxy’s handler, but the two also have a very close partnership. Carter boasted on Roxy’s behalf:
“I’m sure she was born to do this; I couldn’t imagine her doing anything else.”
Roxy Does Important Work Every Day
Roxy is one of nine dogs who work on the specialist search unit. They handle high-risk missing person cases, counterterrorism, and serious crime searches. Her duties even extend to protecting the Royals, Carter explained:
“Last summer, Roxy and I worked at Windsor Castle ahead of the private wedding of Princess Beatrice and Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi and, this month, we secured the local area ahead of HRH Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh’s funeral.”
Now that she has this new purpose, Roxy is absolutely thriving at work and with her person.
“Roxy is a superstar. She is intelligent, very systematic and thorough. For her, it’s all a big, fun game and she just loves to work.”
In addition to loving working with Roxy, Carter is thrilled to see a rescue dog find new meaning and joy in life.
“To see her working and know she’s a rescue dog whose life could have been so much different makes me so proud; it’s amazing to see her doing her job and loving it. And I love working by her side, she’s my crew mate and we have each other’s backs.”
Roxy’s Story Could Mean Jobs And Happy Endings For Other Abandoned Pups
Roxy’s talent and drive make huge strides in the perception of the Staffie breed as valuable working dogs. RSPCA dog welfare expert Dr. Samantha Gaines said:
“Sadly, Staffies often receive a bad reputation that they simply don’t deserve. Just like any dog, given the right upbringing and care, they can make loving family pets or, like Roxy, crime-fighting ‘su-paw’ sniffer heroes.”
Roxy is the 14th West Hatch Animal Centre rescue to become a police dog. Clearly, they can see potential in dogs others may not. This ability to see past breed stereotypes could change the game for many rescues.
“Unfortunately, Staffies have suffered from overbreeding and bad press in recent years and we see more Staffordshire bull terriers and Staffie-crosses coming into our care than any other type of dog. But dogs like Roxy are a wonderful example of how clever Staffies can be and may help to change the public’s perception of the breed.”
As Roxy’s story tells us, one person’s surrender is a community’s treasure.