Local News

Welcome, Keegan

The Orkney Drugs Dog charity have a new recruit, Keegan, a one-and-a-half-year-old Sprocker.

Keegan Image credit Orkney Drugs Dog

The new pup arrived in the county fresh from the West Midlands Police Dog Training Centre, in Balsall Common near Coventry, and came fully trained in drugs detection work.

Six months ago, the charity’s dog handler Kevin Moar and its chairperson Sylvia Robertson made the trip down to see five pups put through their paces before making a decision for their preferred choice of dog to go through training.

Throughout the process Keegan became the obvious pick to join Kevin and the charity’s current drugs detection dog Zoe here in Orkney.

Kevin attended the training centre and completed a two-week course and licensing with Keegan and also relicensed with Zoe at the same time.

Kevin said: “Keegan’s arrival in Orkney was a huge step forward for the charity.

“Not only do we now have two fully licensed drugs dogs operating in the county for the first time, but he also plays a vital part in planning for the future.

“Despite having only been in the county for a matter of weeks, Keegan has already been busy.

“We’re making sure he’s getting used to environments like the NorthLink terminals and Kirkwall Airport, along with visits to Royal Mail and freight depots as well as conducting operational searches.

The arrival of a new dog does not mean Zoe is planning her retirement just yet as she will continue to spend time meeting the public and helping Kevin educate people about the role of the charity along with some other operational duties.

Sylvia Robertson became chairperson of the charity last year, taking over the role from the long-serving Andrew Drever.

She said: “Having two dogs will give the charity resilience in terms of being able to carry out detection and deterrent work in the county.

“Working with dogs can be unpredictable as they are like any other animal and can suffer ill health, injury or just have an off day.

“Over time they can also slow down with age or suffer from training or environmental issues.

“Having only one dog was one of the biggest challenges for the charity, as we must have a working dog available at all times.

“While the purchase of Keegan is a significant outlay for the organisation, having two dogs in the wings puts us in a much more secure position as we continue our work.

“Duties will be shared between both dogs easing the amount of pressure we put on Zoe.

“She’ll continue to work operationally but she will be also be doing what she loves – meeting the public and helping them understand the role the charity plays in keeping Orkney safe from illegal substances.”

Orkney Drugs Dog is an independent charity funded through donations by the Orkney Community along with many in kind donations from businesses around Orkney. 

As a commissioned service, the charity is also grateful for the continued support of Orkney Alcohol and Drugs Partnership.

The purchase of Keegan was funded by money raised through the winning YPI Group in Stromness Academy in 2021, The McKinstry Company through their Will Aid event, and a Highland Park Staff Sponsored Walk. 

These generous donations were not only used to purchase Keegan but will also go towards the associated ongoing development and training costs as the charity continues its work to help keep Orkney safe now and for future generations.

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