Force’s dog unit sees upgrade in facilities for our four-legged crime fighters
Main article content
“We strive to ensure the well-being and safety of our officers and staff so why should our dogs be any different.”
This was the thought that prompted the dog section staff to set about upgrading the conditions of the unit to make it a better environment for the police dogs.
Leicestershire Police currently has over 18 working police dogs which are based at its headquarters in Enderby.
This includes six breeds of dogs – German and Dutch Shepherds and Belgian Malinois, who all work as general-purpose dogs as well as Labradors, and Cocker and Springer Spaniels, known as sniffer dogs, who can find illegal drugs, quantities of cash, explosives, and digital media storage devices, such as hard drives and SIM cards.
While the previous unit met all of the latest dog welfare legislation, it was built in the 1980s and needed modernisation to help the dogs become more settled especially given the number of dogs in the unit which has hugely increased over the years due to their extended use.
Sergeant Julian Lowe, who was behind the implementation of the changes, said: “Some of the dogs can spend a substantial amount of time in their kennels when the handers are on leave or courses so it is important that we provide the best environment for them. Our dogs often become stressed when they first arrive as they are used to being with their handler so anything we can do to reduce this stress is really important to us.
“As part of our advancement of the unit, each kennel is now enclosed from the other kennels so the dogs can’t see each other and has its own heating and lighting adapting to the individual dog’s needs.
As well as changes to the inside kennels, the outside compound now consists of four separate exercise areas featuring a grassed area and play equipment such as tunnels and hides to help stimulate the dog and encourage play. A separate agility area has also been upgraded to allow for this continued specific training of the dogs, a key part of work in particular for general purpose dogs which are used to track suspects and assist officers in public order situations.
“In the short time we have changed the facilities we have already seen a vast improvement in how the dogs are behaving and the atmosphere in the kennels. They are calmer and better settled when in the kennel and seem more relaxed when they are being taken out of the kennels or when our staff have to enter them.
Sgt Lowe added: “These changes have not only enriched their environment but made the dogs safer to handle which of course has helped with those who interact with them in the kennel on a daily basis.”
Inspector Jim Purdie, who until recently headed up the unit, said: “Being a police dog handler is a 24/7 job. The dog goes home with the handler after each shift and they are responsible for their care and well-being when they are not on duty. It is only right that we invest in the unit so when the dogs come into kennels they have the best environment.
“Sgt Lowe has been instrumental in bringing in these changes and making the unit of a significant high standard which has all been done with one thing in mind; the welfare of the dogs. Police dogs are a valuable asset to operational policing and a well-loved part of the police family not just by us but by the public as well.”
Chief Constable Simon Cole said: “Our dog unit is an important part of our day-to-day operational activity, working 24/7 to keep our communities safe. It’s great to see that their welfare is being managed with excellent facilities at force headquarters.”
Rupert Matthews, the police and crime commissioner for Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland, said: “It’s fantastic to see the dogs are very well-cared for and have excellent facilities to use when not out and about. The public can rest assured that our canine constables are well-looked after in five-star accommodation where they can keep active and keep their bodies fit.”