A water company has come up with a novel way to sniff out leaks in its pipes – a springer spaniel.
Denzel, three, has been drafted into the Essex and Suffolk Water leakage detection team after a rigorous training programme with two ex-military dog trainers.
Luke Jones and Ross Stephenson have trained Denzel to detect the tiniest traces of chlorine – the chemical used to disinfect water supplies.
The pup is joined by younger colleague Snipe, two, who works with Denzel every day.
They search land where water pipes are laid and alert handlers when they pick up the scent of a leak.
Detection teams then carry out an investigation to find and fix the leaks.
Joe Butterfield, from Essex and Suffolk Water, said: “We are so excited to have Denzel as part of the team here at Northumbrian Water and can′t wait to see what he can do.
“We have seen so many stories where working and searching dogs have produced results for the likes of the police and the military that it would be foolish of us not to give this a try and to see if the technique can be applied to our supply area.
“We are always looking for new and innovative ways to save water and detect leaks and recruiting Denzel to the team is a fantastic example of this.”
Denzel′s handler Luke Jones said: “Using dogs to search for drugs and explosives is well known, but there are a host of other applications that we are only just starting to explore.
“We′re really excited by the progress Denzel and Snipe have made over the last six months.”
Essex and Suffolk Water has pledged to reduce leaks across its network by 17.5 per cent over the next few years.
The company is also using satellite technology to detect leaks and unusual amounts of water on its network from space.
By Adela Whittingham