New dog welfare volunteers complete training
SIX new volunteers have completed their training to independently monitor the health and wellbeing of police dogs in Essex.
The Dog Welfare Lay Visiting Scheme, which has recently been relaunched by the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) for Essex, aims to ensure the 40 working police dogs in the county are kept in comfortable surroundings, have good access to food and drink and are well nourished.
As part of the programme, the volunteers will also ensure the canines – which are based at the Essex Police dog unit in Sandon – have enough space to move around, adequate ventilation and have no signs of injury or ill health whilst at their base, during training and operational duties.
The volunteers – of which there are seven in total – have varied experience with canines ranging from being owners, carers or trainers, working with guide and gun dogs, running a kennel club and volunteering and working at the Battersea Dogs Home and the RSPCA.
They will be responsible for independently monitoring the 40 dogs based at Sandon who work with officers to search for suspects, drugs, firearms and money as well as providing general support at incidents.
One of the new volunteers, Christine Foreman, from Canvey Island, said: ‘It’s just beautiful at Sandon, I can’t believe how much space the dogs have, and it’s obvious the handlers really love them.
“It’s been a fantastic training session and I can’t wait to start my volunteer role.”
The six volunteers received their training for free from Mick Chidgey from the Dogs Trust charity who taught them key signs to look out for when checking a canine’s welfare as well as talking about the lifestyle of working dogs.
The training session was also supported by Sgt Paul Screech from the dog unit and seven-year-old German Shepherd Xena who has provided two litters of puppies for the force’s dog unit.
Sgt Screech said: “As a dog handler I speak for us all when I say we love our dogs, and we want the best for them.
“We want to be completely transparent with how we work and care for our dogs, so this scheme is important to reassure us, and the public, that we are doing the best we can for the animals we are responsible for.”
Nick Alston, Police and Crime Commissioner for Essex, said: “Working dogs are an important part of any police service and provide an invaluable service to communities in apprehending criminals, identifying drugs and generally helping police officers to keep the peace.
“These animals put their lives at risk to keep the public safe and they deserve the best possible care. At the office of the PCC it is our responsibility to ensure that Essex Police is delivering the very best service it can, and the dog unit is no exception.
“We’re delighted this scheme will once again be thriving in Essex, and are grateful to all our new volunteers for their time and dedication in making this happen.”
The Dog Welfare Lay Visiting Scheme replaces the former Animal Welfare Scheme which was run by the Essex Police Authority.