Our police dog unit has welcomed two newly-qualified canines into its ranks.
PD Ebony, an 18-month old German Shepherd, and PD Iko, a 14-month old Dutch Herder, passed their intensive 13-week training course after starting on 23 February 2022.
The dynamic duo, whose handlers are PC Ruth Jones and newly-qualified PC Ellis Powell, were formally brought into service on Tuesday (24 May).
To mark the occasion, the dogs were given their official force collar and the handlers received a special certificate, presented by Chief Constable Chris Noble at the force’s Stafford HQ.
The new additions take the number of qualified canines in force to 28.
PD Ebony is the fourth police dog to be licensed under the tutelage of PC Jones, who has worked in the force for over 14 years.
Dual handler PC Jones, who is also responsible for ‘sniffer’ dog PD Barry, aka ‘Lord Barrington’, started working with PD Ebony following a six-year stint with former PD Colt.
She said: “At home, I’ve now got Lord Barrington, retired PD Colt, newly qualified PD Ebony and a sausage dog, all under one roof! They get on really well which is lovely to see.
“Throughout my career with Colt and Barry, we’ve had various successful deployments in finding elderly missing people, detaining armed suspects in high-profile situations and assisting the firearms team with various grade one callouts.
“Just this year, Lord Barrington found over £800,000 in drugs, which is our best find to date.
“Once, myself and Colt were investigating after a motorcycle was stolen in Newcastle-under-Lyme.
“We had exhausted all lines of inquiry and reviewed hours of CCTV footage to no avail, until Colt picked up a scent which led us to the stolen property and two arrests.”
She added: “PD Ebony has big paws to fill,
“You develop habits with your dog, there’s no bond like it!
“You have to understand how they think, how to reward them and how to get them behave in certain situations to get the result that you want. There’s really no job quite like it”.
Newly qualified handler PC Powell, who joins the unit with youngster PD Iko, also credits this relationship as the defining factor to starting as a handler.
“Ever since I started in neighbourhood policing four years ago, I knew I wanted to be a dog handler.
“The best thing about the 13-week course is seeing the development of your dog in different situations. You see them grow in confidence and you begin to build the foundations for your working relationship, which is the most rewarding aspect for me.
“We go to specialist facilities to learn how to track, we go up on Cannock Chase to learn how to navigate challenging terrain and we set-up practical training scenarios on housing estates across the county.
“Every year, each licensed handler also attends a tactical training day where they are exposed to heavy footfall incidents – like the crowds at football matches, preparing both the handler and the dog for every eventuality.”
He added: “It’s a really proud moment for me to receive my certificate.
“It’s been a challenging period but now I’m just eager to get started and join this fantastic team who are committed to supporting armed response and delivering first-class service within our communities.”