- Gloucestershire Constabulary launched a scheme in February 2020 to ensure its police dogs are trained and cared for in a humane and transparent way.
- The coronavirus pandemic meant training of Animal Welfare Scheme volunteers was unable to take place in 2020.
- The volunteers began training on Thursday 29 July 2021.
A scheme to help ensure Gloucestershire’s police dogs are properly cared for is underway, as volunteers for the Animal Welfare Scheme begin their training.
The scheme launched in February 2020, and was created to support the Constabulary’s commitment to the welfare of its animals. However, the coronavirus pandemic meant that the selected volunteers were unable to take up their in-person training safely, until now.
The project allows independent members of the public to visit police dog training centres, accommodation and police stations to observe, comment and report on the conditions under which police dogs are housed, trained and transported. It will cover anyone who interacts with police dogs, such as the trainers, handlers and kennel staff.
Dogs Trust manages the Animal Welfare Independent Visitors Scheme nationally, while locally the Chief Constable will manage it, and the PCC will be responsible for the selection of the Independent Visitors
In addition to rolling out the scheme in Gloucestershire in 2020, the county’s police horses and dogs were given their own ID cards and collar numbers in line with the Animal Welfare (Service Animals) Act 2019 – also known as Finn’s Law. The Law is named after Hertfordshire police dog, PD Finn, who was seriously injured in the line of duty.
It defines service animals as ‘sentient beings’ rather than ‘assets’, making it an offence to cause unnecessary suffering to a service animal.
Gloucestershire’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Chris Nelson said: “Our Force’s commitment to animal welfare is clear. Together with my pledge to tackle dog theft in Gloucestershire, the Force becoming the first to back a DNA protection scheme for dogs, and our animal welfare Independent Visitors Scheme this is a Constabulary that cares about animals.
“Nationally, the recognition that animals are sentient beings is an important step forward when it comes to animal welfare and it’s encouraging that Gloucestershire Constabulary is keen to be so transparent when it comes to the care of its Police animals.
“Our police dogs are loved and valued by the public. They put themselves in harm’s way on a daily basis to help keep the public safe, and it is important we offer them the highest levels of care.”