Customs Drug Dog handler Monique Hendricks and her dog Chess have won the National Drug Dog championships.
Monique Hendricks was Customs' first woman dog handler, and has been in the job for nearly a decade. She and Chess also won the trophy for detection of white powders, which sees the dogs indicating where they smell drugs such as cocaine, ecstasy and heroin.
Customs dog handler Kevin Hattrill and his dog Declan took second place overall.
Trials between Police, Justice Department and Customs Service dog handlers and dogs have been held this week at the Police Dog Training Centre at Trentham.
Customs Minister Jim Anderton today congratulated Monique on her win.
“Monique has been a trailblazer, as the first woman dog handler and now the first woman to win the national championships. Women now make up half of the Customs dog-handling team, and I confidently expect to see more trophies in the future.
"Customs dogs have a good success rate. For example, in one recent week indications by the dogs led to the detection of speed and hashish being carried by passengers and a quantity of methamphetamine located in the mail.
“There have been increasing detections of white powder drugs by the dogs. In a recent case in Christchurch, a dog indication resulted in a man being found with 632 Ecstasy tablets concealed in his underwear. The man has since pleaded guilty to a charge of importing drugs."
Monique Hendricks is based in Auckland. Kevin Hattrill is based in Christchurch and has been a dog handler with Customs for two years.