MEET Koda, the four-legged crimefighter.
The 14-month-old Belgian Malinois has just qualified to become a fully-fledged police dog and has been given her collar number, PD1301 and been issued with her own warrant card.
She’s the newest member of the Alliance Armed Policing and Police Dogs Unit that’s shared between North Wales Police and their counterparts in Cheshire.
Her handler, PC Sonia Stobbart, an instructor with the unit, introduced Koda to the North Wales Police and Crime Commissioner, Andy Dunbobbin, when he came on a visit.
Koda is a general purpose police dog that can be used for a whole host of jobs, ranging from searches for missing people, property and weapons to detaining suspects and tackling large scale disorder.
According to Mr Dunbobbin, Koda and her canine colleagues and their handlers were the “unsung heroes” of policing.
After witnessing several dogs being put through their paces with various training exercises, including sniffing out drugs and catching “criminals” on the run, the commissioner said: “I’m incredibly impressed with what I have seen.
“The level of control the handlers have is absolutely amazing. It’s like they are flicking the dogs on and off with a switch.
“They can go from a sitting position to grappling with someone’s arm in a second and they stop right on command.
“One of the exercises involved searching an office and sniffing out a small amount of drugs which was located very quickly.
“These dogs and their handlers play a key role in frontline policing – they are our unsung heroes.
“I am sure Koda will make a fine addition to the team.”
The unit launched its own puppy programme four years ago and has an 85 per cent success rate in training the dogs so that they make the grade.
The general purpose dogs are usually German Shepherds, Dutch Herders or Malinois while specialist dogs are usually gun dog breeds like, Labradors, Cocker or Springer Spaniels.
Joining the dogs’ unit 13 years ago was a “dream come true” for PC Stobbart.
She said: “It has always been something I wanted to do because I adore dogs.
“I love working with them and I have developed a real love for training them, so I worked towards being an instructor.
“Like all the dogs here, Koda came from a reputable breeder who supplies working dogs throughout the country.
“I have had her since she was eight weeks old, and she’s been on the training programme with me since then.
“She’s been fantastic and yesterday she qualified as a general purpose police dog and was given her collar number.
“Dogs like Koda save lives on a daily basis and they are an integral part of policing.
“Their noses are absolutely phenomenal and that’s something that technology can’t replace in the environment we work in.”
It was a sentiment endorsed by Chief Inspector Simon Newell who’s in charge of the Alliance team.
He said: “As well has having their own individual warrant cards, all the dogs have an individual collar number.
“We have recently given them body armour – you wouldn’t send a police officer out onto the streets without body armour, so why would you send a police dog?
“They are also important members of the team. There are people out there who are still alive because of the work that our dogs have done, missing persons who’ve been vulnerable and gone missing in the middle of winter that the dogs have located. They wouldn’t have been found otherwise.
“There’s property that’s been recovered that wouldn’t have been found but for our dogs.
“There are people who’ve been arrested for burglaries or assaults or stealing vehicles that’ve run off from local officers that we’ve been called to. We’ve located them. They would not have been found if it were not for the dogs.”
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