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Saturday 3 March 2012

Checking Out Police Dogs

Chmn with dogs 1

Independent welfare checks on police dogs in Cheshire will continue when the Police and Crime Commissioner is elected in November.

Cheshire Police Authority, which currently has responsibility for the checks, will be disbanded but the Authority Chairman, Margaret Ollerenshaw says alternative arrangements will be made.

Under the existing Police Dog Welfare Inspection Scheme four members of the Police Authority regularly drop in on dog training exercises at various locations across the county.

They see that the dogs have adequate water and food; that they are free from injury and disease; that they are not showing signs of fear or distress; that their conditions are clean and safe and that they are behaving normally.

The visits are additional to welfare checks by a vet and by the dog unit manager.

The Chairman said, "While police dog handlers are dedicated to their animals and take great care of their ‘working partners′, the independent checking is important to see that standards are maintained in every case and to reassure the public that the dogs′ welfare is paramount.

"This side of the Authority′s work may not have a very high profile but we regard it as very important. We would not dream of letting it fall off the agenda and it has been included as one of the transition items we are dealing with.

"One possibility is that some of the Custody Visitors who monitor the custody centres in Cheshire might take it on. They are volunteers, who are independent of the Constabulary. They check that people who have been arrested are being looked after and their rights are being observed. Much the same approach is required in the case of the dogs.

"Whether they are general purpose dogs which patrol the streets, locate missing people and assist with arrests; or the specialist dogs which locate drugs, weapons and explosives, these animals are a vital part of policing today.

"They help to keep all of us safe. The least we can do, in return, is to make sure that they receive the very best care and enjoy their work."

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