£25,000 bounty for a dog's head

A sniffer dog has had a £25,000 bounty placed on its head by criminals because it is so good at its job, its owner has claimed. Springer spaniel Scamp managed to detect £6m worth of illegal tobacco in a year, causing headaches for smugglers and black market dealers. His powerful sense of smell led to a string of court cases

Dogs are obviously an established part of our society. When people think about dogs, they usually think about them as pets. But take a moment to think about the wider roles that dogs fulfil to protect and serve the public. Scamp obviously works as part of enforcement as a drug detection dog. But there are also dogs that work as guide dogs that assist those who are blind, hearing dogs, mobility assistance dogs, diabetic alert dogs, seizure alert dogs, seizure response dogs, psychiatric service dogs, autism support dogs, allergy detection dogs, and of course police dogs, and dogs that serve in the military,

The question is, are there special protections for service/assistance dogs and their owners? As usual, it depends which country you reside in.

In some countries, assistance dogs are widely welcomed by service providers such as restaurants, shops, hotels and other public buildings as well as on public transport including in taxis. Legal protections in respect of those who rely on their dogs are often in place because a refusal to allow an assistance dog onto the premises may be interpreted as refusing to provide a service to the owner for a reason relating to their disability.

And what about those dogs and other animals that are at greater risk than their pampered pet counterparts? Police dogs, prison officer dogs, and police horses, for example. It’s been argued that a loophole in existing legislation enabled someone to claim self-defensive if they had harmed a service animal. However, legal initiatives advocate an amendment to animal welfare legislation making it a specific offence to cause unnecessary suffering to an animal “under the control of the relevant officer”, such as a police or prison officer.

Still, as with many laws, it can only act retrospectively so “prevention is still better than cure”. That’s probably one of the reasons that Scamp’s owner decided it would be better to change Scamp's workplace. Scamp's owner reportedly said: "We had to stop working in one part of the country last year because there was a £25,000 bounty put on his head”.