The dog has long been appreciated as man's
best friend - and canine crimefighters are perhaps our best friends
Highly trained dogs have played a
vital role in the work of Dorset Police since 1953, when the county
was among the first in Britain to set up a specialist section.
Since those far off days the
force's dogs and their dedicated handlers have been involved
continually in the front line of crime detection and deterrence, as
well as acting as important ambassadors for police work to the
Potential canine recruits are
chosen for their excellent breeding and even temperament - vital
qualities for the role they will play.
The German shepherds tend to be
males, because they are bigger, while sniffer dogs can be male or
female, as long as they have a brilliant nose for the job!
The regional training school and
local instructors are involved in training the successful canine
candidates in obedience, teamwork, tracking, how to
search for people and objects and how to chase and hold suspects on
the run. Sniffer dogs also receive specialist training to develop
their sense of smell - already said to be 200 times more sensitive
than the human version! The explosives dogs are also taught to bark
and retreat when they identify suspect devices - allowing human
experts to step in.
The dog handlers are permanently
paired up with at least one German shepherd and sometimes a
specialist dog as well. The dogs first meet their handlers when
aged between 10 and 18 months and become full-time partners during
a canine career that can last seven years. They often become
lifelong companions, living as family pets with their handlers
The Dorset Police Dog Section is
based both at Ferndown and at Weymouth. An Inspector, two
sergeants and 18 constables are responsible for nearly 30 dogs -
mainly German shepherds trained for general policing duties,
together with labradors and springer spaniels that have received
specialist coaching in sniffing out drugs or explosives.