Denzel: The sniffer dog the sniffs out water

Read all about Denzel the sniffer dog who sniffs out water leaks.
Denzel’s heritage is all about water. What better sniffer dog could a water company choose? © Pixabay

Drugs? Firearms? Explosives? No. Meet the sniffer dog to be trained in the detection of water leaks.

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United Utilities (UU) recently unveiled their secret weapon against rising levels of water: a dog called ‘Snipe’. But now Snipe has been joined by an apprentice: Denzel. 

It is hoped that when next our most precious commodity is scarce, Snipe will show Denzel everything there is to know about the early detection of water leaks in an effort to keep consumers’ costs down and avoid the need for hosepipe bans.

Sniffer skills honed

Three-year-old cocker spaniel (water else) Denzel is the second in a pack of seven sniffer dogs hoping to be employed by United Utilities in their war against leaks.

Under the tutelage of ex-military dog trainers Ross Stephenson and Luke Jones, Denzel has been trained to sniff out water leaks beneath the ground.

Hannah Wardle, Leakage Manager at United Utilities, explains: ‘Tackling leakage is a real priority for us and we’re always looking for new and innovative ways to do the job more effectively.

Once a fully qualified sniffer dog like his mentor Snipe, Denzel will be able to detect hidden water loss because he is trained to recognise the faintest smell of chlorine: a chemical water companies use to disinfect their pipes.


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Throughout the summer of 2018 United Utilities came under fire for not doing enough to prevent the region from experiencing one of the worst droughts in living memory.

Leaks were the biggest problem, despite the company trying out dozens of new technologies in a battle to stem the flow.

The North West of England is a notoriously wet region,’ Wardle adds, ‘and sorting the leaks from the puddles especially out in the fields can be real challenge. This is where we hope Snipe will really come into his own, as his sensitive nose can detect mains water at incredibly low concentrations.’

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Read also: Dog was very happy after soldier owner came back in homecoming!

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Nick John Whittle lives and works in Birmingham, UK. He is a specialist copywriter, journalist and theatre critic. Over the years Nick’s family has owned dogs, cats, rodents and birds. The history of animal domestication and of people’s relationship with their pets over the centuries interests him a lot. He cares greatly about the welfare of both feral and domesticated animals and supports ongoing protection of endangered species.