A RESCUE dog who had a very “ruff” start in life is now helping to catch criminals on the streets of Sussex.

Badger the Cocker Spaniel was one of four six-week-old puppies who were found abandoned in a garden in Redhill in Surrey last summer.

The puppies were almost bald with severe mange and were extremely malnourished and underweight, with chronic eye and ear infections.

After being rescued by the RSPCA for weeks of treatment, the four puppies – named Dustin, El, Lucas and Mike after characters from the Stranger Things television series – were rehomed.

The Argus: Badger, formerly known as Dustin, was in a terrible condition when foundBadger, formerly known as Dustin, was in a terrible condition when found

El, Lucas - now called Reggie - and Mike all settled in well but Dustin struggled in his new home.

Jo Douglas from the RSPCA Millbrook Animal Centre in Cobham, who helped to care for the puppies, said: “Dustin was always on the go and needed constant stimulation.

“He was just too much for his adopters so he came back to us. We kept him busy by hiding tennis balls around the centres and playing scent games with him.

“He absolutely loved it and was really good at following his nose, so we contacted the police to see if they’d be interested in taking him on as a new recruit.”

Dustin took up his new position with the Surrey and Sussex Police Dog Unit and was paired with PC Steph Barrett, who renamed him Badger.

She said: “I was saddened to hear how Badger had been dumped on the side of the road, but thanks to the RSPCA he’s been given a second chance.

“I could tell he was a bit high-spirited but through a lot of love and training he has regained trust in humans and become a real success story.

“He’s still very mischievous at times, but that’s all part of the challenge.”

PD Badger has been qualified for about six months and is trained to search for drugs, cash and weapons.

The Argus:

The skilled hound has already secured numerous finds on the job. He tracked down a substantial quantity of cash and drugs and a mobile phone, hidden within the grounds of a church in Belgrave Road in Seaford on November 12, which led to three arrests.

A 30-year-old man of no fixed address and two men from Seaford aged 20 and 21 have been released under investigation.

When it comes to work, PD Badger has a real spring in his step.

PC Barrett said: “When he hears the radio go off he squeals with excitement and I don’t even have to ask him to get in the van - he's obsessed with work.

"He’s a joy to work with and makes me smile all day.”