The search is on for another drugs sniffer dog crowdfunded by islanders on Orkney after the first one lost its sense of smell because it had waited too long to be set loose!

Whisky was finally to be unleashed on dealers this month.

But after hold-ups in launching Orkney Drugs Dog, Whisky lost his ability to sniff out drugs.

It follows an unusual chain of events.

Just days before the dog was due to start to crack down on drugs dealers on the northern archipelago in October, his new handler, Kevin Moar, was injured in a freak accident - delaying the groundbreaking service by three months.

Ironically Whisky's handler twisted his knee while running to pass his police supervised medical and fitness test.

The service could not start unless he passed the examination. Mr Moar, 50, is now in post and raring to go.

But Andrew Drever, chairman of Orkney Drugs Dog, said Whisky, who was a retiring Police Scotland dog, was not.

"With everything that happened he has not been on active duty for 12 weeks and no longer has the ability to smell drugs," he said.

"He constantly needs to be on patrol.

"It is very frustrating, but we are now actively looking for another dog through police, RAF and other contacts. We have not found one yet, but we hope to have a dog in place perhaps next month."

In September Whisky made his first swoop - even before he officially started!

Whisky was brought to Orkney for a two day introduction to meet the community with his handler PC Matthew Watson, who has since retired from the force. He agreed to keep Whisky while his new handler recovered.

But Whisky was involved in "enforcement activity" during his visit to the island - after a search of two properties at Andersquoy in Kirkwall resulted in herbal cannabis valued at approximately £300 being seized.

But with Whisky's demise, Orkney is still waiting to get its first permanent sniffer dog after a massive fundraising drive by anti-drugs campaigners.

The charity set up to raise the cash has now reached its initial funding target of around £105,000 in cash or kind.

It has also raised money towards training a pub to eventually replace the first dog.

Whisky, a fully-trained golden Labrador, was enlisted from Police Scotland with Inverness-based PC Watson retiring.

The move comes amid growing concerns about drug misuse on the islands.

Mr Drever said:"The public have been telling us there are problems in Orkney with drugs.

"There's obviously drugs that are not being turned up because we don't have a dog.

"The drugs problem here has been growing over the last 10 years and, while it is not as bad as some other areas, we want to nip it in the bud.

"There has also been a move from soft drugs to hard drugs here."

The sniffer dog move comes after Orkney saw a near doubling of drug possessions.

In 2016/17 there were just 29 - the following year there were 50. Supplying drugs offences went from two to four.

In May last year, class A & B drugs worth almost £30,000 were recovered during intelligence led operations in Kirkwall and Stromness.

A similar sniffer dog patrol initiative has operated on Orkney's northerly neighbours of Shetland since 2001 in an effort to safeguard the islands from the growing problem of illegal drugs.

Its leaders have been advising campaigners on Orkney about setting up their own scheme.

The annual running costs are between £55,000 and £60,000.

The job is perfect for dog handler Mr Moar, who has returned to his native Orkney - in part to help look after his elderly parents Jimmie and Cora, who live in Kirkwall.

Mr Moar was for 27 years in the RAF Police, all but two working with dogs. He was also a former patrol and search dog instructor and trainer for the MoD. He left the force in 2015, last serving at RAF Waddington in Lincolnshire.

Mr Moar is vastly experienced with patrol, explosive and drug searches with various types of dogs.

"The supply of drugs into the island has increased even though we are probably behind other areas in the UK. But we don't want users to encourage others such as weak individuals who may get pushed into it. This service will help prevent and disrupt that culture," he said.

"Even if you don't catch anybody it will show it's helping with prevention. But it will be good to get detections. I'm sure the service will more than prove its worth.

"I'm looking forward to the challenges. I have worked with various breeds of dogs before. Most of my career has been with military dogs.

"I think it (the drug problem) is definitely increasing and anything we can do to prevent and disrupt the supply of drugs into the island will be good."

Mr Moar admitted it had been "frustrating" that he twisted his knee on a training run to pass his police medical.