AN ABANDONED Cocker Spaniel puppy who was found in a desperate state of health has grown up to become a crimefighter, working as a trained sniffer dog with Surrey Police.

Badger, who was initially called Dustin, was found dumped in a bucket with his three siblings aged six weeks and rescued by the RSPCA Millbrook Animal Centre in Chobham.

The puppies were almost bald due to severe mange, had chronic eye and ear infections, and were extremely malnourished and underweight.

Jo Douglas, from the Chobham RSPCA centre, said: “The poor puppies were in a real state. They needed four different types of eye drops and two ear drops which had to be administered four times a day, plus medicated baths for their skin.”

After weeks of treatment, the puppies, named Dustin, El, Lucas and Mike, after the Stranger Things TV characters, were back to full health and were found new homes.

The other three dogs all settled in well but Dustin was too energetic for his new owners who were forced to return him to the centre.

Jo said: “We kept him busy by hiding tennis balls around the centre and playing scent games with him. He absolutely loved it and was really good at following his nose and finding them, so we contacted the police to see if they’d be interested in taking him on as a new recruit.”

Dustin, who was renamed Badger, joined the police dog training programme and qualified as a sniffer dog.

Jo said: “I was lucky enough to go and see him when he was training, and it was amazing to watch him work. That day, he found a gun, ammunition, money, and drugs; he’s such a clever boy.

“When he graduated, the police sent us a copy of his certificate and an official photo of him which we now have hanging in pride of place at Millbrook. We’re all so proud of him. It’s been incredible to see the transformation he’s made from frightened, poorly little puppy to a brave and clever canine crime-fighting hero.”

Badger, who is now 20 months-old, works alongside PC Steph Barrett with Surrey and Sussex Police Dog Unit.

PC Barrett said: “I was saddened to hear how Badger had been dumped on the side of the road but, thanks to the RSPCA, he’s been given a second chance. After a lot of love and training, he has regained trust in humans and become a real success story. He’s still very mischievous at times, but that’s all part of the challenge.

“When he hears the radio go off, he squeals with excitement and I don’t even have to ask him to get in the van. He’s a joy to work with and he’s hard not to love.

“He’s still got that cheeky side to him, but he’s obsessed with work and he makes me smile all day.”

The RSPCA is running a Christmas Rescue campaign. For more information, visit