It a dog's life for new canine Police recruits
It’s a family affair for two of the four new canine recruits to the North Wales Dog Section.
Labradors, George and Aggie are siblings and were recently acquired by North Wales Police and are now living with handlers in preparation for their training which starts in September.
Instructor PC Gordon Topps explained that the dogs, who are only seven months old, will spend the next few months getting to know their handlers and generally settling into their new surroundings.
He said that they had also recently acquired a German Shepherd and aMalinois who had successfully completed their training.
The Dog Section has also recently taken on a new handler, PC Sonia Norman, who is currently training along with her new dog Zak, a Malinois/German Shepherd cross.
Sonia joined the section in December and is learning how to handle Zak and will be fully operational in May.
In total, Gordon said that North Wales Police has 10 dogs used for general purpose and another 10 who are specialist search animals.
“We have a mixture of German Shepherds and Malinois which are used for searching for offenders, stolen property or missing people, crowd control and supporting firearm officers. The other 10 are a mixture of Labradors and Springer Spaniels and they are specialist search dogs and used for recovering things like drugs, cash and firearms.
“We start training dogs when they are between 12 – 18 months old but some like Aggie and George come to us a few months before that and live with their handler.
Dog handler, PC Wayne Culshaw, who is looking after George said that for now the puppy was mainly just allowed to play.
“Both Aggie and George will be trained up before the end of the year and one of them will be replacing my Labrador, Harry, who is 10 years old and due for retirement.
“Most of the dogs we take on are imported from the continent these days as UK dogs are mostly bred for showing or as pets.
“In some parts of Europe dog trials, which include searching and pursuit, is a popular sport so dogs are bred for this purpose.
“In Holland for example if you wanted to be a police dog handler you would have to buy your own dog and train him and then apply to the force.
“Some forces like the Metropolitan Police and West Midlands breed their own and we are going to West Midlands very shortly to take a look as we are always looking for the opportunity to buy a good dog.
“We used to get them given to us as gifts but the drop out rate used to be too high so now we buy them for the specific purpose,” he said.
All the dogs are put through their paces at the airbase in Rhuddlan but are also taken to different venues around the force area to finish their training. They also fly in the force helicopter when they are needed urgently for a job and it is quicker than going by road.
“We try to get him used to his environment and different smells and carry out a little bit of recovery work, like hide and seek with a ball, in preparation for the training which starts in September.
“George is doing very well and we will soon be able to hide drugs instead of the ball and he will be able to sniff them out.
“Working with the dogs is a very rewarding job as they are really amazing. It is very varied, as one day we can be searching for a missing person and another in pursuit of an offender and the role of the dog is paramount.”
Photograph, right, shows new handler PC Sonia Norman with her dog, Zak
Source: News Wales