Bovingdon prison search dog will feature on Paul O'Grady's show

Prison search dog Cookie will appear on ITV tonight

Wednesday, 5th August 2020, 3:29 pm
Updated Wednesday, 5th August 2020, 3:32 pm

A prison search dog for HMP The Mount in Bovingdon will appear on Paul O’Grady: For The Love of Dogs on ITV tonight (Wednesday).

Two years into her career as a prison search dog, Staffordshire Bull Terrier Cookie has become a popular member of the security team at HMP The Mount.

But the going wasn’t always so sweet for the three-year old, who despite her friendly nature, was returned to Battersea Dogs and Cats Home three times after struggling to fit in with her new families.

Nick and Cookie

Luckily, as a young dog with boundless energy and intelligence, her potential was soon spotted and she was taken on by Her Majesty’s Prison and Probation Service (HMPPS) and trained as a search dog.

Cookie is now one of around 54 dogs in HMPPS’s Six Counties Search Team, and when not relaxing at home with her Buckinghamshire-based handler Nick Hayes, 53, she’s putting her nose to work on the wings at HMP The Mount.

Nick said: “After 13 years as a prison officer I decided to train as a dog handler. Cookie was my first dog, so we trained together.

“Cookie was probably at last chance saloon in terms of finding a family, so it was good to see she had found her place with us and did so well in training.

"She’s a hyperactive dog, hugely intelligent and really spirited, but she has calmed down a lot since she joined us.

“Everybody loves Cookie and Cookie definitely returns the favour.”

Cookie and Nick are part of a team of six dogs and three handlers who are at the forefront of security at The Mount, responsible for searching post, parcels, and anyone coming into the prison for drugs and other contraband, as well as being a visible presence on the wings.

They also take part in intelligence-led operations to crack down on illicit substances, helping to reduce violence and keep prison staff and inmates safe.

In 2019, they and their colleagues helped seize more than eight kilograms of drugs in 329 separate incidents at The Mount.

Nick added: “Unlike other security measures like X-Ray body scanners, Cookie is mobile which makes her hugely valuable when carrying out searches.

"We also both continue to get regular training to stay sharp.”

As a Staffordshire Bull Terrier, Cookie is unusual in that other breeds, such as Springer Spaniels, are more typically used as search dogs. Yet at the age of three, Cookie still has a long career ahead of her.

Katie Price, Governor at The Mount prison, added: “Search dogs are an important part of prison security, and we are all very proud of Cookie who has been a great success since she joined the team.

“Cookie is an amazing dog both for her work in The Mount, her loveable personality and the positive way she interacts with everyone.

"She is a key part of our team and I am really glad we were able to offer her a forever home.”