Dog that can find human remains by sniffing underwater retires after 11 years

Dog that can find human remains by sniffing underwater retires after 11 years

An underwater sniffer dog that can find human remains by sniffing the air at the prow of a boat has retired, after 11 years of service.

Springer spaniel Barra, 12, has spent the past decade specialising in recovering submerged victims across the UK.

He is based on the River Clyde with owner and handler Iain Marshall, 55.

Iain said Barra has provided bereaved families with closure over the years but he is ready to retire after developing mobility issues.

Boat operator Iain, of Luss, on Loch Lomond, was inspired to get Barra when he was a pup after reading about underwater sniffer dogs.

He said: “I worked with the coastguard for 18 years dealing with a lot of missing people. It’s hard to walk away where you know someone is still missing.

“We do training two or three times a week where we will put bait in the water and Barra will bark on the scent.

“He sits on the boat with his legs over the front and his nose down sniffing the water, he never goes in.”

Last year Barra went to Wales to help in the search for five-year-old April Jones, who went missing in 2012.

Iain said: “We do it on a voluntary basis. The police will ask us for help or families will come to us directly, especially if it’s a long-term missing person.

“Normally, dogs retire about seven or eight years old, but Barra loved his job so much that he’s continued doing it.”

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