Cheshire’s police and crime commissioner is on the lookout for some dog-loving volunteers to help him ensure police dogs are being treated correctly.
The volunteers will make monthly unannounced visits to kennels to observe, comment and report on the conditions in which Cheshire Constabulary’s dogs are housed.
They’ll also have the chance to view dog training sessions and accompany dog handlers and their canine companions out on patrol across Cheshire and North Wales.
It’s part of PCC David Keane’s Police Dog Welfare Scheme which is run through an alliance between Cheshire Constabulary and North Wales Police.
The scheme aims to maintain standards and ensure that training procedures are ethical, humane, transparent and accountable.
He said: “Police dogs are a hugely valuable part of our police family within Cheshire and support frontline officers in a variety of scenarios.
“My role as police and crime commissioner is to hold Cheshire Constabulary to account on behalf of the public and ensure all of their departments are performing to a high standard, including the police dog alliance.
“The welfare of our police dogs is of paramount importance and it’s important that we have independent checks in place to ensure animal welfare standards are robustly maintained.
“Police Dog Welfare Visitors act as ‘critical friends’ providing me with independent and invaluable feedback to ensure our police dogs are properly cared for, happy and their working conditions are acceptable.
“We’re looking for local people with experience of animal welfare to support the scheme.”
Among the current Police Dog Welfare Visitors is Lesley Graffham. She explains why she volunteers with the scheme: “When you can see the changes being made due to your feedback then it’s a job worth doing and that is the exact reason why I volunteer as a Dog Welfare Visitor.
“It’s not a hugely demanding or time consuming role however the benefits and outcomes are both rewarding and helpful to all concerned.
“Sticking to the rota is the hardest thing because you will just want to be with the dogs all the time; if you think you’ll be fussing and playing with dogs then this role is not for you. These are Police Dogs (with extremely big teeth) and they have a job to do.
“My role as a visitor is to independently observe the dogs, kennels, vehicles and training and feedback to the OPCC who pick up on any reported issues and implement them as necessary which then ensures the dogs, kennel staff and officers that every aspect is as good as it can be. What can be more rewarding than that?”