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The Dog Unit welcomed another dynamic duo into their crimefighting team yesterday.
On Thursday (2 December), Dog Unit Inspector Dave Kelsall presented PC Sarah Haycock with a certificate for completing her General Purpose Police Dog course.
PC Haycock and her four-legged companion, PD Tono, are the newest pair of recruits to complete the 13-weeks of intensive training – ready for deployment into the real world.
Czechoslovakian Shepherd Tono, who is just 16-months-old, was imported from Poland and placed under the tutelage of PC Haycock - an Authorised Firearms Officer (AFO) with ten years of experience in the force.
“I’ve always wanted to work with the dogs” admits PC Haycock.
“I’ve worked very closely with handlers and their canines in the past as an AFO – attending various incidents across Staffordshire.
“The course was certainly a challenge for Tono and myself but I am so thankful to the rest of the unit who have welcomed us so warmly into their team here. It really is like a family”.
PC Haycock said: “The commitment needed for dog handling is huge. When you’re training, you are spending nine hours a day with your dog – from seven in the morning until three in the afternoon. You’re exercising them three times a day and then socialising them whilst at home. They become an enormous part of your life.
“I have three children who all love Tono. He is a very sociable animal when he needs to be but has that switch when its time for PD duty. Striking that balance is a really important aspect of being a handler.
“He has met some of the other dogs in the unit too. Tono has spent some time with PD Atlas - handled by PC Matt Holding – and a few months back he spent some time living with Sgt Mat Butterworth, who has two police dogs of his own. We certainly feel like a part of the family now.”
The duo are the first in the force to have completed their training in Cleveland (UK) – ahead of their inaugural deployment on Saturday 11 December.
Armed with firearms previously, PD Haycock now has another tool at her disposal, one which she eagerly anticipates working with.
She added: “Tono has really developed since the beginning of the course. He is such a brave and strong dog now – the course has certainly allowed him to realise his potential as a service animal.
“I’m looking forward to getting back out there now and continuing my policing career with Staffordshire Police. It’s a proud moment to be receiving my certificate, but now my focus turns to the future and how we can deliver effective methods of policing for our local communities.”