Wiltshire Police has welcomed two new police dogs to the force – introducing Betty and Rudi.
The two German Shepherds successfully passed their 13 week training course, and were presented with their licences by Superintendent Mark Sellers at police headquarters alongside their handlers PC Cindy Hargreave and PC Tracy Doughty on Friday.
The pair have taken over from retired police dogs Tyke and Max who left the force at the beginning of the year after clocking up almost 15 years of service between them.
Also completing the course was police dog Marshall from Gloucestershire Constabulary alongside his handler.
PC Cindy Hargreave initially started the course with a different dog, who unfortunately didn’t make the grade and was rehomed. “This was a challenge in itself as I never like to say goodbye to any of my dogs,” she said.
“I then teamed up with Betty and knew instantly she had what it takes to be a police dog.”
PC Hargreave worked alongside her previous dog Tyke since 2013 and he is now enjoying his retirement living at home alongside her. But starting afresh with a new dog has lots of challenges to overcome.
“Starting over with a new dog is rewarding and challenging,” said PC Hargreave, who will be based at headquarters in Devizes. “When your previous dog retires, they are at a very experienced level and know what they are doing. Although Betty has just passed an initial course, she now needs to learn to be a police dog. It’s one thing performing all the exercises and training within the confines of a course, but we now have to work as a team and I need to develop her.
“It will all be very different from now on for her, as whilst she knows what to do with various different scenarios and disciplines, she’s always performed in quite a sterile environment. We do what we can in training to make it as close to a real life scenario as possible, but you can never completely recreate a live incident.
“I have no doubt she will take it all in her stride. She is a lot smaller than Tyke but I’ve named her the Pocket Rocket. She’s very stubborn and quite a madam, but she’s very determined – all positives for a great police dog.”
During the 13 weeks, the dogs are tested on a variety of skills, including obedience, agility, tracking, searching and crowd control. They are general purpose dogs and now qualified, can be expected to be called upon to assist in a wide variety of incidents, including burglaries, disorders, crowd control at events such as football games and searches for missing people.