They say dogs are man’s best friends – and that’s never truer than when you’re partnered up to fight crime.
PC Grace Feavyour and her PD Astro have passed their training regime and are now out on the streets responding to reports of crime.
Astro was born in February last year – and was one of PD Orla’s litter, the first litter of Leicestershire Police puppies.
Grace has known Astro since he was eight weeks old – making them a good match for the training they had to undertake as a duo.
Grace, who’s been a police officer for four years, was signed off for independent duty at the beginning of July and has spent a few weeks ‘in company’ with another officer and their dog.
But last week, the pair were on their own – and PD Astro proved himself more than capable.
Grace said: “Astro found two people that were hiding who’d had made off from the scene of a crime. It’s very satisfying when you see all training come together.
“The two men we arrested made off from the scene before we arrived, and overall it took a long two hour search to locate them, but once we got to the right place even though they were well hidden Astro brought it to an end by finding and barking at them.”
On top of the two arrests in the live incident, Grace and Astro have been to a number of areas where there were a large number of people gathered. This is important for getting Astro used to the large number of people in an uncertain situation.
Grace said: “The training is all good practice and showing Astro what to look for and what we might be attending, but it’s in a training environment, where everything is controlled.
“I wanted to get to as many different incidents as possible very early on – making sure Astro gets to many different scenarios as possible.”
Grace and Astro went through a 13-week training programme, but Astro knew the basics before this. The puppy scheme meant PD Orla’s puppies were placed with existing dog handlers from a very young age.
This was then developed to get the puppies to the standard of a licensed police dog. This began as simple training to ensure they understood what scent was, and by the end of the training, tracking a person across various types of terrain to find them at the end.
Grace said: “It’s a lot to take in – for Astro and for me. I’ve been through my police training, but there’s a whole lot more to learn when I started training with Astro.
“When we’re training, it can seem a little bit like a game – Astro will work for a ball which he will receive at the end of an exercise, but out on the streets it is very different so I want to get to as many jobs as possible to show him that this is serious and we’re dealing with serious incidents.
“During the incident where we arrested the two men, I saw a difference in Astro in his bark and behaviour. He wasn’t using his little puppy bark; it was an authoritative, commanding bark to tell me he’d found something.
“It was great to see and I’m looking forward to making many more arrests as a pair.”