A SPANIEL who narrowly escaped being put down as a stray has retired as one of Wiltshire Police’s most successful passive drugs dogs.

Griffin, the Cocker with a penchant for extracting cuddles from his suspects, made more than 500 finds, including £3,000-worth of drugs on a woman at a festival and sniffing out a wanted man with 450 LSD tablets in his pan He spent so much time working the county’s pubs, clubs and schools that he was often recognised by members of the public who even remembered his name.

Handler PC Marie Poole said: “Being as cute as he is, he has also on a number of occasions given cuddles to people that he has caught – he is always ready to cuddle someone in need.

“Surprisingly, people he has caught have also given him a tickle and told him he's a clever dog while they are being arrested.”

Griffin was adopted by the force aged two and joined officially a year later in 2009. Abandoned as a pup, he had been rescued by the Blue Cross in Ireland on the day he was due to be put down.

He was paired with patient PC Poole, who managed to overcome some of his naughty behaviour and turn him into a success story. But not without the occasional hiccup.

“One example of his naughtiness was during a training exercise on the non public side of a luggage carousel at Bristol airport.

“He found the training bag with drugs in it but refused to get off the carousel, which meant he entered the public side and went past 200 holiday makers waiting to collect bags, clinging tenaciously to his bag on the moving carousel.”

Griffin will remain with PC Poole and her other retired police dog Frank.