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4 August 2010, 00:00
Kent Police is appealing for new recruits for its highly skilled dog unit. The force currently has 50 working dogs at any one time. It is always looking for more dogs to join the team in case of injury or illness.
In previous years the force has recruited dogs from people who are no longer able to look after or afford the animals and they have been given as ‘gifts’ to the force.
Sergeant Tony Dyer of the dog unit said: “Kent Police can offer these dogs a good home and a stimulating and exciting environment.
“The breeds of dogs we use for police work are full of energy and require a lot of attention and stimulation as they are intelligent animals.
“Some owners find it difficult to cope with such dogs, but by training them to work as police dogs they have daily activity to keep them focussed.
“All the dogs in our unit live and work with their owners and enjoy a wonderful life.”
The breeds that Kent Police usually train as working dogs are German Shepherds and Malinois for patrol work. Labradors, Retrievers and Spaniels are used as detection dogs, although cross breeds with the correct temperament may also make good police dogs.
Sgt Dyer added: “The dogs are a huge asset to Kent Police and their work is invaluable.
“We have enjoyed great success thanks to using these highly trained dogs. We have been able to find missing people by dogs following their scent and our dogs are a valuable tool in identifying drugs, weapons or explosives.
“The animals enjoy their work and are given plenty of rewards of their efforts.
For every 100 dogs, Kent Police may only take one because of the requirements for the role. The dog section are always looking for potential police dogs, which are known as 'gift dogs', these are usually donated by members of the public, re-homing kennels or guide dogs for the blind.
Dogs must be no more than two-and-a-half years old.
Snoop, (pictured above) a year-old cross breed is now a fully-fledged member of the Kent Police Dog Unit having previously been destined for a life in a rescue centre.
The last time Kent Police took in a dog from a rescue centre was almost six years ago. The force currently sources their dogs from specialist breeders and trains them to be police dogs.
Snoop’s handler PC Neil Loudon said: “We were called by Battersea Dogs home to see if we would like to have a look at Snoop as they felt he may be difficult to re-home due to his high drive.
“After our initial assessment we felt he’d make a perfect police dog.
“I’ve had him since December 2009 and he’s very boisterous, nosey and just loves being a police dog.”
It is not known Snoop’s exact breed, as he was taken to the rescue centre as a stray with no details. It is thought he could be a cocker spaniel cross with a retriever.
All dogs have to go through strict and tough training to ensure they are up to scratch.
Snoop has been taught to search for drugs/cash and weapons and only once he had passed the eight week course last month will he have been deemed a suitable police dog.
Kent Police trains a number of dogs for a variety of policing purposes including:
Proactive drug search
Passive drug search
Cash, drugs and weapons detection
Snoop has been taking part in drug searches.
Head of Kent Police’s Dog Unit, Chief Inspector Preston Chalk said: “Our dogs perform a vital role in modern law enforcement and as such are an integral part of every police force.
“Every police dog has to work towards a set of excellent standards in a range of disciplines and am delighted Snoop has passed the tough training course.
“By taking in Snoop, who would have otherwise spent his years in a rescue centre we are not only giving a dog a home but also providing more resources patrolling the streets in Kent.”