It's a dog's life
It’s a family affair for two of the four new
canine recruits to our Dog Section.
Labradors, George and Aggie are siblings and
were recently acquired by North Wales Police and are now living
with handlers in preparation for their training which starts
Instructor PC Gordon Topps explained that the
dogs, who are only seven months old, will spend the next few months
getting to know their handlers and generally settling into their
He said that they had also recently acquired a
German Shepherd and a Malinois who had successfully completed
The Dog Section has also recently taken on a
new handler, PC Sonia Norman, who is currently training along with
her new dog Zak, a Malinois/German Shepherd cross.
Sonia joined the section in December and is
learning how to handle Zak and will be fully operational in
In total, Gordon said that North Wales Police
has 10 dogs used for general purpose and another 10 who are
specialist search animals.
“We have a mixture of German Shepherds and Malinois
which are used for searching for offenders, stolen property or
missing people, crowd control and supporting firearm officers. The
other 10 are a mixture of Labradors and Springer Spaniels and they
are specialist search dogs and used for recovering things like
drugs, cash and firearms.
“We start training dogs when they are between
12 – 18 months old but some like Aggie and George come to us a few
months before that and live with their handler.
“Both Aggie and George will be trained up
before the end of the year and one of them will be replacing my
Labrador, Harry, who is 10 years old and due for
“Most of the dogs we take on are imported from
the continent these days as UK dogs are mostly bred for showing or
“In some parts of Europe dog trials, which
include searching and pursuit, is a popular sport so dogs are bred
for this purpose.
“In Holland for example if you wanted to be a
police dog handler you would have to buy your own dog and train him
and then apply to the force.
“Some forces like the Metropolitan Police and
West Midlands breed their own and we are going to West Midlands
very shortly to take a look as we are always looking for the
opportunity to buy a good dog.
“We used to get them given to us as gifts but
the drop out rate used to be too high so now we buy them for the
specific purpose,” he said.
All the dogs are put through their paces at
the airbase in Rhuddlan but are also taken to different venues
around the force area to finish their training. They also fly
in the force helicopter when they are needed urgently for a job and
it is quicker than going by road.
Dog handler, PC Wayne Culshaw, who is looking
after George said that for now the puppy was mainly just allowed to
“We try to get him used to his environment and
different smells and carry out a little bit of recovery work, like
hide and seek with a ball, in preparation for the training which
starts in September.
“George is doing very well and we will soon be
able to hide drugs instead of the ball and he will be able to sniff
“Working with the dogs is a very rewarding job
as they are really amazing. It is very varied, as one day we can be
searching for a missing person and another in pursuit of an
offender and the role of the dog is paramount.”
Picture 1: PC Wayne Culshaw with George
Picture 2: PC Sonia Norman with Zak
Picture 3: George searching for a hidden
Picture 4: George goes to great lengths
to find the hidden item