Meet dog handler Rob Mountford and PDs Tiger and Archie
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“I joined the police aspiring to be a dog handler from the off.”
For this month’s Dog Support Unit feature, we spoke to PC Rob Mountford about his role as a dog handler and his two dogs, Police Dog (PD) Tiger and PD Archie.
Rob, who has been an officer with Staffordshire Police for 21 years, became a dog handler in January 2017. He had previously been a response officer and a neighborhood beat officer in Fenton.
Any officer who has completed their probation period can apply to be a dog handler and the process involves an interview and an assessment and exam. Officers will learn about the specialist equipment that is used including bite bars, bite sleeves and bite jackets.
Dogs live with the officers at home and officers generally have two dogs at a time. It is a dog handler’s responsibility to look after their dogs and make sure they are disciplined in their duty and in peak physical condition.
He has handled four-year-old PD Tiger, a Dutch Herder/German Shepherd cross, for around 18 months. Tiger is a general-purpose dog, who gets involved with a variety of incidents from helping to search for missing people, burglaries, vehicle pursuits and football matches. They are also part of the firearms team.
Rob said: “General-purpose dogs are really versatile and are able to assist in so many situations. Basically, anything to do with finding a human or something a human has touched and they can help. Tiger is also trained to chase and detain fleeing offenders and protect himself, his handler and others.”
His other police dog is PD Archie, a five-year-old black Labrador. Archie is a pro-active drugs dog and Rob has handled him for three years. He usually helps with warrants, stop searches of vehicles and searches of open areas for drugs, cash, firearms and ammunition.
Rob continued: “My favourite job so far with PD Archie is when I was called to search an address after a vehicle search where a small amount of drugs and cash were located. We believed the suspect might be dealing drugs. We went to the house and Archie signalled on a large old-fashioned casement speaker. He was adamant there was something in the speaker and when we removed the wooden panel off the back it was stuffed full of thousands of pounds in cash.
“He also located a football-sized ball of Class A drugs hidden in a hole underneath a dismantled metal shed.”
Rob said: “Having grown up around dogs – my mother used to compete in obedience and agility with dogs and runs a dog grooming business – I loved the idea of being out catching criminals with a police dog.
“I adore the time I spend with PD Tiger and PD Archie. They have such great personalities.
“Being a dog handler is a unique job unlike any other within policing – it’s a vocation and a partnership between dog and handler that lasts 24-hours-a-day, seven-days-a-week. It’s a very challenging and demanding task that involves a lot of work in your homelife with the dogs but it’s also a very rewarding role.”