A Pembrokeshire dog handler has recently returned from a stint putting customs detection dogs from all over Europe through their paces.

BWY Canine’s Stuart Phillips was selected as the only British referee for the European Customs Detection Dog Championships, hosted this year by Latvia Customs.

Stuart, who has gained a formidable reputation around the world as a detection dog trainer and instructor was selected to join the judging panel, which was made up of detection dog experts from the Netherlands, the Estonian Military Police as well as customs dog instructors from Latvia, Lithuania, and the Czech Republic.

Stuart started his detection dog career in 1999 when he joined the dog section at 14th Signal Regiment, Cawdor Barracks. He and his dogs have won several UK awards for disrupting serious and organised crime and tackling the illegal tobacco trade, working alongside trading standards, police and His Majesty’s Revenue & Customs.

The European Customs Detection Dog Championship was held over four days in the Latvian town of Rezekne, close to the Russian border and saw dogs with their handlers from 15 countries competing against each other. Over the four days dog handlers were evaluated on how quickly and thoroughly they could search vehicles, buildings, and luggage with their detection dogs, looking for hidden drug samples and bank notes.

The four-day competition ended with Belgium Customs winning with their Belgium Malinois drug and cash detection dogs.

“This has been a huge honour and privilege for me and a highlight of my 24 years working with dogs,” said Stuart. “As the only British referee on the judging panel, I got to work alongside some highly regarded detection dog experts and professionals from other European countries and the whole experience was just fantastic”.