A police force will be trialling an added layer of protection as it rolls out protective vests – for its dogs.
Specialist body armour is currently being tested out by Avon and Somerset’s canine firearms support unit, as well as other items of protective kit.
The force currently uses more than 20 dogs across different roles, including crowd control and public order, searching for drugs, explosives and currency, and firearms support.
Specialist body armour is currently being tested out by Avon and Somerset’s canine firearms support unit (above, PD Gunnar, a dog from the team), as well as other items of protective kit
Tri-force dogs inspector Shane Hawkings, from Avon and Somerset Police, said the dogs were ‘highly-valued members’ of the team.
He said: ‘We’re currently trialling different types of body armour for our Tactical Firearms Support Dogs across Tri-Force [ie police collaboration with two other counties: Gloucestershire and Wiltshire].
‘These dogs support our Firearms Officers and they’re hugely valued members of our team.
‘Choosing this equipment is a balancing act between making sure they are safe, while ensuring they’re still able to do their job effectively.
Another of Avon and Somerset’s brave police dogs. Their initial training can last anywhere between four and 14 weeks and the dogs are tested to Home Office standards to check they are performing
‘It’s very early days in our trial and at the moment we’re in the process of choosing the piece of kit that’s best for us.’
The trial has been praised on social media, with people describing it as ‘fantastic news’ and ‘long overdue’.
Keith’s School of Motoring wrote on their Twitter account: ‘That’s brill and needed… just need the law changed now to protect our furry enforcers even more.’
And the Heddlu Gwent Police added: ‘Great idea, all police dogs should have them.’
The dogs that work as part of the tri-force operation team are mainly made up of German Shepherds along with Belgian Shepherds, Springer Spaniels and Labradors.
Their initial training can last anywhere between four and 14 weeks and the dogs are tested to Home Office standards to check they are performing.