A CHESHIRE veterinary practice is helping to keep the long arm of the paw on the frontline.
Whether they have suffered injuries in the line of duty, or simply need routine healthcare and vaccinations, police dogs from Cheshire and North Wales have regular trips to Willows Veterinary Hospital in Hartford, Northwich.
The specially trained dogs are a vital weapon in the police’s arsenal when it comes to fighting crime and crowd control and need to be fit, healthy and in peak condition for their role.
The practice has been looking after dogs from the Cheshire Constabulary for six years, but after joining forces with North Wales to form the Alliance Dog Section, they have now been entrusted to care for the working animals from both forces.
Willows will be looking after the Alliance Dog Section’s 32 German Shepherds, Spaniels, Labradors, Belgian Malinois and Dutch Shepherds, which are used for a range of duties, including tracking down criminals, sniffing out explosives and detecting drugs.
Handler PC Alan Friday, who owns German Shepherd Kaos and Labrador Luis, said: “The dogs can suffer lots of sprains, strains and muscle injuries because they are working dogs and need to run and charge around.
“We have to ensure they are fit and healthy to do what is asked of them so routine healthcare is important. We also rely on vets to check them over when they are recruited for the force to ensure they are fit for purpose and have the right conformation.
“The vast majority of dogs are absolutely lovely so it’s fine taking them to the vets, but there are other dogs that need more special handling due to the nature of the work they are trained to do.”
Vet Alan Redpath recently treated a dog at Willows Veterinary Hospital that had broken its tooth helping to apprehend a criminal.
Alan said: “These are working dogs that are very good at what they do and they have to be fit for what they do. Before it goes to train at the academy, we have to check hips and elbows to make sure they’re fit for purpose.
“It is a real feather in our cap to be entrusted with caring for them as they perform such an important role in society. After they extended their territory to cover North Wales, we will be seeing a lot more police dogs.
“The bond between the dogs and their handlers is incredible – and it has to be because there are a lot of bad guys out there they encounter in their work.”
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