Friday 10 August 2007 08:04 (here)
A pair of elite police sniffer dogs attached to an English police force has been helping Portuguese police in their hunt for missing four-year-old Madeleine McCann, it has emerged.
The specially-trained English springer spaniels Eddie and Keela were reportedly flown to Praia da Luz in the Algarve last week to take part in the investigation.
According to the Belfast Telegraph, the pair were brought in to help after the police looking into her disappearance re-focused on the McCanns` holiday apartment.
Madeleine has now been missing for 98 days and police are increasingly desperate for any kind of breakthrough in her case – as are her parents Kate and Gerry, who are still in Portugal.
Both sniffer dogs are attached to South Yorkshire Police and are trained to locate traces of blood to help officers in murder and missing person inquiries.
Eddie is a “victim recovery dog” who can detect blood and human remains, while Keela has been trained only to detect human blood and specifically very small samples.
It appears highly likely she was the dog brought in by British detectives last week which located tiny traces of blood in the McCanns` apartment despite alleged attempts to wash them off.
Police are still waiting for the results of tests on the recovered traces, which arrived yesterday at a top UK forensic laboratory.
The sniffer dogs have already travelled around Britain, and to Ireland and the US to help police investigating murder and missing person cases.
Eddie located the body of pensioner Attracta Harron in a shallow grave in Co Tyrone in April 2003 after the 65-year-old was murdered on her way home from Mass, the Belfast Telegraph said.
Her killer, Trevor Hamilton, 23, was put behind bars last year for the murder – which was committed less than four months after he completed a sentence for rape.
As well as locating the pensioner`s body, the seven-year-old dog found the murdered woman`s blood on Hamilton`s burned-out Hyundai.
A dog diary about Keela on the South Yorkshire Police website when she was six months old says she and Eddie live “with my dad” at home in Bawtry, Doncaster.
It reads: “He is going to train me to search for very small spots of blood at crime scenes, so small that the humans can`t see it.
“My very sensitive nose will be able to smell the blood and I will show Dad where it is. He can then show the scientists so that they can take samples.”
South Yorkshire Police were unavailable for comment.