David Hibbert is the Chairman of the Retired WM (West Midlands) Police Dog Benevolent Fund. It’s a new organisation and its sole aim is to improve the lives of retired Police Dogs. David has been working along with the WMP Breed Scheme for over 8 years.
Helping out at Crufts with the West Midlands Police, I was able to see him performing with his dog Bandit at the main arena, certainly one of my highlights of the show. I briefly mentioned their performance along with a video on my Crufts blog here. David has kindly agreed to answer some questions about the work he does with police dogs.
Q. How many police dogs work within your unit?
A. West Midlands Police boasts a dog handler establishment of 69 operational officers, the third highest in the UK. There are around 85 operationally licensed police dogs with 120 puppies coming through the WMP Breed Scheme. The WMP Breed Scheme has 30 brood bitches & is one of the most successful breed schemes in the UK managed by Dave Raymond & has been recently assisted by Terry Arnett.
Q. How old do you start training your puppies?
A. All of our puppies start developing under the guidance of the successful WMP Breed Scheme from the age of 6 weeks.
The environmental work whilst the dog is a puppy is a critical part of the dog’s ‘training’.
Puppies meet up once per month to be assessed & reviewed to ensure they are progressing & have no issues. ‘Official Training’ starts when they are around 12-18 months old where the dogs then move from their puppy walker to a handler.
Q. What kind of process do officers go through before given the chance to work with police dogs?
A. Officers must complete their probationary period & have a very good record. Usually most officers who have a desire to become handlers will have attachments to the dog unit & the kennels.
When dog handler roles become available they are extremely popular. Officers must complete a suitability course which includes written, physical & various forms of practical assessments.
Q. What is the most rewarding part of your role?
A. I’ve been working alongside the WMP Breed Scheme since 2005 & love seeing the puppies grow & develop into fully operational Police Dogs. Getting a puppy at 6 weeks old & developing him into an Operational Police Dog is the most rewarding factor. It’s great to hear of the success they’ve had out on the streets.
Getting a puppy at 6 weeks old & developing him into an Operational Police Dog is the most rewarding factor
More recently with the creation of the Retired WM Police Dog Benevolent Fund it has enabled us to become more involved with the dogs who retire & finish active duty. We’re really looking forward to developing this side of things further.
Q. What advice can you give to anyone who wants to eventually work with Police Dogs?
A. First & foremost you must have a real enthusiasm for dogs! It’s a 24 hour job as Police Dogs also live with their handler & their family. Dog Handler’s can’t just go home & forget about their job – ultimately the job is their life & very often will spend more time with their dog than their family.
Go out & get as much exposure to dogs as you can. Visit dogs homes, training clubs – anything you can to immerse yourself in the ‘dog world’
Here is David giving an insight to puppy training!
Be sure to visit their dog blog on www.pddogblog.blogspot.co.uk
They have published a brilliant blog on Police Puppy Walking Schemes, along with the section ‘What It’s Like to Be A Puppy Walker’ which is very humorous as well as educational, I couldn’t recommend it more. Check it out here.