West Midlands Police has welcomed a very special recruit to its crime-fighting ranks − the 1,000th puppy to be born into its Puppy Development Programme.
The force operates one of the largest 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 program really took off 10 years later when breed scheme bosses turned to the continent to source dogs from impeccable bloodlines 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 percent 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 April 4 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.”
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.