From fluff-balls to fully-trained police dogs in 13 weeks. That's the challenge for the trainers at Cumbria Police's Dog Section in Penrith. Three German Shepherd puppies are currently learning the ropes, and if successful they will join the team of 28 dogs already working for the Force.
The German Shepherd's powerful jaw will stop criminals in their tracks, but they are also used for finding missing people and hidden evidence. Spaniels and Labradors work as specialised search dogs, undergoing four to eight weeks of training.
Unlike most Dog Sections, Cumbria Police's canine colleagues live with their handlers at home, where they become 'part of the family', according to PC Paddy Bainbridge. An important bond develops between handler and dog - the pair sticks together throughout the dog's career. This could mean a working partnership of around 6 years, and up to 10 for a specialist search dog.
– Chief Inspector Kevin Greenhow
The dog section provides vital support to police officers in a variety of ways. ...The dogs can save a vast amount of time in being able to search an area quickly and effectively. They are also an essential part in tackling drug crime and have helped to recover over £2,000,000 worth of drugs in the last 12 months.