Police dogs become Facebook stars

THREE police dogs have been thrust into the limelight with their own pages on a popular social networking site.

People can now follow the canine recruits through their Facebook profiles which were launched by Herts Police at an event to showcase their skills last week at the force’s headquarters.

Two-year-old German Shepherd Storm, seven-year-old Springer Spaniel Ted and puppy-in-training Tyler, a German Shepherd, were chosen from a 45-strong canine team at the Herts and Beds Dog Unit.

Inspector Steve Mann, who heads up the team of 29 police officers at the dog unit, said: “We are delighted to be able to showcase our fantastic police dogs through a social networking site such as Facebook.

“Each and every day our highly skilled dogs are providing vital support to police officers which ultimately helps to bring offenders to justice and keep both Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire safe. The Facebook profiles and new website will not only help us to keep the public up to date with the vital operations, but will also allow them to follow the dogs throughout their day-to-day lives and get a sense of the life of a Beds and Herts police dog.”

Storm, who lives with his handler PC Mark Atkinson, is a general purpose dog which sees him assist police with a broad spectrum of jobs including everyday patrols, tracking, restraining criminals and helping to find missing people and property.

He showed just how skilled he was at the event last week when he swiftly apprehended a trainer who was firing a gun in the middle of a field.

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Ted’s job as a proactive sniffer dog involved detecting illegal drugs such as cannabis and heroin, as well as searching for cash, guns and explosives.

He can find himself helping out with his handler PC Jason Keir in anything from early morning drugs raids to checking public areas for drugs which have been planted.

Demonstrating his talents at the event, Ted detected two bags of Class A and B drugs in the blink of an eye, freezing when he located a smell in anticipation of his reward – a tennis ball. Such is his precise sense of smell, Jason said Ted have detected half an ecstasy tablet before.

Dogs like Ted are specifically trained to stop dead still when they find a substance rather than rooting around for it so that they don’t ever come into contact with drugs as inhaling even a tiny amount could kill them.

Ted’s passive drug dog counterparts often work undercover and are trained to scan the air for drugs in public places such as stations or nightclub queues and stand still beside anyone they detect a scent on.

Tyler is the dog unit’s newest recruit at eight months old and he is well on his way to becoming a general purpose dog for the unit.

He has been living with puppy walkers who have instilled in him the basic skills he needs to go on and train to become a fully-fledged police dog and he is now on the verge of embarking on his 13-week police training.

Since the Beds and Herts dog units combined in April of last year they have attended 7,000 assignments and made 594 arrests.

The unit often rehomes dogs which have been unable to fit into family life as they can go on to become excellent police dogs. Anyone who feels they may have an appropriate young dog they can no longer keep should consider contacting the police on 01707 354476.

To become fans of Storm, Ted and Tyler and follow their progress visit the Herts Police Facebook page or the unit’s new website at www.herts.police.uk/dog_unit/index.htm

To watch videos of the dogs in action, visit www.hertsad.co.uk