Puppy Power! West Midlands Police welcomes its 1,000th pup recruit
West Midlands Police has welcomed a very special recruit to its crime fighting ranks − the 1,000th puppy to be born into its acclaimed Puppy Development Programme.
The force operates one of the largest, most successful police dog breeding schemes in the country with canine cadets graduating through training onto UK streets to fight crime and keep the public safe.
It started back in 1994 but the programme really took off 10 years later when breed scheme bosses turned to the Continent to source dogs from impeccable blood lines to act as their ‘Adam and Eve’.
Tag of Valatad and Gunda Valkenplatz − Tag and Gunda as they were swiftly shortened to on arrival in Birmingham − were the ‘Adam and Eve’ German Shepherds to whom around 99 per cent of West Midlands Police dogs can trace their paw-prints.
Some of their latest descendants were born on St Patrick’s Day followed by a further litter of 11 German Shepherd puppies who arrived on 4 April and have been named after Only Fools & Horses characters, including Rodney, Trigger and Boycie!
And when staff crunched the numbers they estimated the 1,000th dog was born there earlier this year − but it’s not entirely certain from which litter the milestone pup landed.
Breed Scheme Manager Dave Raymond, said: “It’s amazing to have reached the 1,000 milestone… and one that in the early days looked a distant dream.
“That’s because in the 1990s most of the dogs we put through training were donated or sourced from external UK breeders… it was hit and miss, many didn’t make the grade and there were question marks over their health and temperament.
“We started looking at breeders on the Continent and after much research spent several thousand pounds to bring home studs Tag and Tom - who were from the famous Czech Border Control breeding program - plus bitches Gunda, Keira and Asco.
“We had eight pups from Tag and Gunda’s first litter and all went on to be operational police dogs, they were exceptional, better than anything we’d seen previously.
“Almost every German Shepherd police dog on the streets of the West Midlands can be traced back to these - and the reason why our dogs possess amazing working ability, sociability and have very few health issues."
The unit’s success rate has steadily increased over the years and now around 90 per cent of all pups go on to work the street of the West Midlands…and are the scourge of criminals.
All fledgling members of WMP’s Canine Corps spend their developmental months with one of the force’s volunteer puppy fosterers who help hone the dogs search skills, environmental awareness and sociability.
And from the age of 15 months they are assigned police handlers and start full-time training in a bid to make the grade and become operational.
General purpose dogs, predominantly German Shepherds, are trained to help their handlers locate and catch crime suspects and uncover any stolen property, weapons or clothing - evidence that’s often crucial in securing court convictions.
Springer Spaniels - which are specially trained to sniff out drugs or explosives - have been bred by the force since 2002. And the force has also welcomed one litter of Sprockers: a Springer Spaniel / Cocker Spaniel cross.
Dog Unit Supervisor, Inspector Sean Querie, said: “The dogs regularly find hidden items not immediately obvious to officers and which would otherwise take much longer to locate… or not be found at all.
“Drug dealers may believe they’ve found ingenious ways of concealing drugs or cash but are quickly found out by our dogs.
“Our dogs play an important role in catching offenders and keeping the public safe. The breed scheme allows us to plan ahead and ensure we have the right number of dogs ready and able to replace ones who retire."
The Dog Unit’s Balsall Common base has been awarded Assured Breeder Accreditation by the Kennel Club in recognition of its commitment to dog welfare.
Dave Raymond added: “Our breed programme adheres to strict Kennel Club guidelines, the breed bitches have no more than four litters and there is at least 12 months between litters. The brood bitches are selected for their exemplary work rate, health and temperament in order to pass those qualities on to puppies.
“Through their careers the dogs develop a strong bond with their handlers and, on retirement, many dogs go to live with their handlers as pets."
Twitter users can keep up to speed with all the developments from the Puppy Development Programme - plus get a steady stream of super-cute pup pics - by following the handle @WMPDogs