DOG LOVERS are being urged to lend a paw to West Midlands Police by offering a temporary home to one of its police puppies.
The force’s dog breeding and training centre in Balsall Common has a new batch of puppies set for a life of fighting crime.
But for the next 12 months they need some love and attention in the home of a dedicated puppy walker.
And West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner David Jamieson is urging people to play their part in creating a happy ‘tail’.
He said: “The puppy walking programme relies upon caring volunteers giving a temporary home to young pups, which have been specially bred to become future police dogs.
“But we need more kind-hearted people to get in touch and help support this scheme.”
Police ‘puppy walkers’ are expected to do more than simply walk their young foster pups.
Volunteers need to devote plenty of free time to play with the puppy and allow it to become used to everyday noises such as the washing machine, vacuum cleaner or TV.
Socialising the puppy with other people is very important, as is introducing it to the sights and sounds of traffic as well as other animals.
On average, puppies stay with their foster carers for up to twelve months before being handed back to West Midlands Police to begin their training as police dogs.
The type of training they undergo differs, depending on whether they are destined to become general purpose police dogs, or will enter specialist service as drugs or explosives detection dogs, or as search and rescue animals.
Most will enter service between the ages of one or two years old and will be on active duty until around the age of eight.
During this time, each police dog lives with its handler and the pair develop an extremely close working partnership. When the time comes for a police dog to ‘put its paws up’ and retire, it usually remains with the handler as a family pet.
The West Midlands force is highly unusual, as it is one of only several UK forces which has its own breeding programme.
Many of the police dogs seen patrolling the streets of the West Midlands, have been specially bred and have graduated through this puppy walking scheme.
The German Shepherd puppies, which are bred by West Midlands Police, are so highly regarded that they are also supplied to other UK and European police forces as well as to the RAF and the Army.
Mr Jamieson, who paid a visit to WM Police Dog Training Centre in Balsall Common, added: “The dogs bred here in the West Midlands are the envy of every other police force throughout Europe.
“They are specially bred to have the right temperament for police work. They need to be fearless but at the same time even tempered and able to take commands from their handlers.
“Being a police puppy walker involves responsibility but it’s also a joy to see the puppies maturing into young dogs who will go on to hopefully have many years’ loyal, active service as police dogs, protecting members of the public and helping to combat crime.”
Anyone over the age of 18 can apply to be a police puppy walker.
The main requirement is that they have the time to devote to their young foster puppy.
Ideally applicants should be at home for most of the day.
The role is unpaid but all equipment, food and veterinary care is paid for by West Midlands Police.
To find out more, or to request an application form, contact WMP Police Dog Training Centre on 0121 626 8202.