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Police Dog Ivy - Update

Following the Chief Constable's decision last week that police dog Ivy will continue her career with West Mercia Police, she has been collected this morning (Tuesday 28 February). She will now start the assessment and re-handling period, which will take around two weeks.

Update on Ivy.....Thursday March 2nd

We understand that many people have been concerned about PD Ivy being required to spend a period of time within our kennels prior to the rehandling process and have asked us to post an update. We are pleased to report that Ivy met her new handler on Tuesday and has responded really positively. The rehandling process commenced on Wednesday when she spent the day training with her new handler and colleagues. They are all getting on really well.

 

Following a successful day of training, Ivy went home with her new handler yesterday and she will continue the rehandling process over the next few weeks when we hope she will be reaccredited and return to full duty.

 

Our earlier statement regarding the decision can be found here: https://www.westmercia.police.uk/article/29472/Chief-Constables-decision-on-Police-Dog-Ivy

We understand that there is a vast amount of public interest in Police Dog Ivy and we hope the below will help answer your questions.

Q: Why have you made the decision that Ivy must return to the force?

A: West Mercia Police purchase dogs through a breeding programme, they are bred and trained specifically to be working dogs, not pets.

Whilst some police dogs coincidentally reach retirement age at around the same as their handler, that is not the case for Ivy, a malinois cross. These breeds have a working life of around eight or nine years, Ivy is not quite four.

We have the full support of her breeder, who agrees that it would not be in the best interests of Ivy to prevent her, at such a young age, from carrying out the role she has been trained to do.

She will therefore continue in her career with a new handler.

Q: What other options were offered to Sergeant Evans?

A: Chief Constable Anthony Bangham met with Sergeant Evans to try and find a solution. During that conversation Mr Bangham made a number of suggestions that would have enabled Sergeant Evans to continue working with Ivy. These were all refused.

The suggestions included:

Sergeant Evans could have delayed his retirement and remained in post with Ivy.

Sergeant Evans becoming a Special Constable within the dogs unit. This would have meant he could keep Ivy as a working dog. This is a unique situation and, nationally, we are aware of only one other Special Constable that is working with a dog.

Sergeant Evans was invited to join as a volunteer within the kennels and the training school, enabling him to maintain contact with Ivy.

Q: Did Sergeant Evans offer to pay for Ivy?

A: Social media and media reporting has stated that Sergeant Evans offered £24,000 to replace Ivy. This is not true. No formal monetary offer has been received, the dog is not for sale and the decision has been made that Ivy should remain with the force.

Q: Why have you not allowed Sergeant Evans to speak on the matter?

A: West Mercia Police has not prevented Sergeant Evans from speaking about the matter.

Q: How much does it cost to train a police dog?
A:
As well as the initial cost to purchase the dog there is a significant amount of investment in training and accreditation for a police dog. An estimate of the costs for a police dogs purchase, initial training and two years of additional training is £24,000.

Q: What is going to happen to Ivy now?

A: Ivy will be re-handled to another officer.

Q: How long does training take?
A:The initial training course for a new dog is 13 weeks.

Q: Do they live with the handler and his / her family?

A: The dogs do live at the home of the handler, but they are kept as working dogs and not as family pets. The force provides outside kennelling for the dogs.

Q: When do police dogs normally retire?

A: This varies according to the health and fitness of the individual dog: we have deliberately moved to smaller breeds to extend working life- with the newer breeds we would expect them to work until they are about 8-9 years-old on average.

Q: What happens to dogs when they retire and their handlers are still with the force?

A: The handlers are offered the dog in the first instance when it retires otherwise they are very popular acquisitions for members of the public and we have little problem in re-homing them.

Q: What happens to the dogs who stay with the force when their handler retires?

A: They are re-handled with another officer.

Q: Do they need to be re-trained with their new handler?

A: After a brief familiarisation period a two week re-handle course ensures the dog can be re-licensed and re-deployed.

Q: Would a retiring officer still be able to have contact with the dog if it had been re-handled?

A: Access to a re-handled dog can cause confusion for the dog: over time the issues of access diminish but in the first few weeks we would not seek to have contact.

Q: Have you let dogs retire early before?

A: Force policy allows dogs to retire once they are no longer able to perform a 'useful role': this may be a result of age, health or performance. This is dependent on each dog and is not just an issue of age - some relatively young dogs are retired on this criteria.

Q: How many dogs / handlers are there in the force/s?

A: Four shifts of eight operational officers - 24/7
Four officers in the school with dogs
Three dog legislation officer without dogs
37 General purpose dogs
22 specialist search

Q: Where do you get them from and where are they trained?

A: Specialist breeders and trained within the school.

 

Issued: 2pm, Tuesday 28 February, Corporate Communications

Published 28/02/17