|Have YOU got a dog who might be able to do this?|
Police dogs are used in a variety of situations including tracking and chasing suspects, searching for missing persons and forcing armed criminals to drop their weapons, but now West Yorkshire Police's Dog Training Section in Wakefield is finding it very difficult to find suitable dogs.
PC David Cornforth is acting Puppy Manager. He says: "Primarily we're looking for German Shepherd dogs aged between 12 and 18 months old - it might be a family dog that's proving far too energetic, it might be need a lot of exercise, it might be displaying signs of aggression within the family environment."
If you've got a dog you think might fit the bill, an officer from the dog training unit will visit you and evaluate your dog. If it shows potential at this stage then there will be some further assessment. Dogs that make the grade will then be given a 13-week course in agility, obedience and controlled aggression.
|PC Geary and his dog Ben|
Training a dog to the high standards required by the police is a lengthy and rigorous process, with the majority of dogs failing to make the grade for various genetic and temperament-based reasons.
Each dog will be given a dog handler and a close bond usually develops between handler and dog. PC Cornforth adds: "As the handler's career progresses you encounter various situations where you're relying on each other for trust and support in dealing with various scenarios. For instance, my dog Jack located two burglars - one was armed with a knife and one with a firearm. The presence of the dog in itself can successfully resolve an incident without actually needing to deploy the dog."
And West Yorkshire Police's Dog Training Section's current hunt does not stop with would-be canine recruits. They are also looking out for open land and large unused buildings to use for training: "The woodland would be to train the dogs to search the open area and flat grassland is used for tracking purposes."
Meanwhile, if you think your dog has the potential to be a new Lassie or Rin Tin Tin, then have a word with PC Cornforth. He says: "We're looking for a dog that's confident within itself and is prepared to go into situations where it's got to prove itself - a dog with good heart."
If you think you can help West Yorkshire Police's Dog Training Section then please contact them on 01924-293135.