Sussex Police is calling on dog lovers to swap a candlelit supper for a rawhide chew with a bundle of fluff for the perfect romantic night in.
Police dog handlers in Sussex are showing the love for their canine friends this February 14 by celebrating the remarkable work carried out by their four-legged colleagues across the county.
Gem, Ollie, Basil and Mason are just four of the dogs who work across Sussex and Surrey and who feature in Sussex Police’s ‘Puppy Love Dating’ service.
Unfortunately, there’s little chance of them sharing their affections as they only have eyes for their handlers, but their often brave work normally goes unheralded.
While the general perception of a police dog may be a big, hairy, noisy German Shepherd like Gem, a general purpose police dog who is five-years-old and works across the county, various breeds are used according to their various traits and abilities.
Mason, an eight-year-old Labrador and Ollie, a six-year-old Brittany spaniel are both explosive search dogs at Gatwick.
While a lot of their work is behind the scenes, passengers may see them working around the public areas of the airport.
Basil, eight, is a cocker spaniel and he is used as a drugs search dog across Sussex.
The force also uses springer and cocker spaniels and Belgian Malinois, but that doesn’t discount using other breeds or even crosses if they are up to the job.
The dogs are selected as puppies, sometimes from litters bred by the dog unit, and are then fostered into families in Sussex and Surrey who socialise them and get them used to the world.
During this time, they come back to us for puppy training and if after a year they are assessed as suitable, they start dog school.
Training varies according to specialism but ranges from six weeks for a drugs detection dog to 12 weeks for a general purpose dog.
Last year, police dogs in Sussex and Surrey attended 13,140 incidents – that’s 36 a day – and were involved in 938 arrests and finding 104 missing people.
They undertook 703 drugs, firearms and currency searches, which seized an incredible £563,000 in cash and nearly £650,000 worth of drugs.
They go places a human would never be able to, cover large areas a whole lot more quickly and their amazing sense of smell is put to good use every day, sniffing out people from hundreds of yards away and having a nose for all sorts of illicit things.
Above all else, they are faithful and brave and many a dog handler has been thankful for their chum getting them out of a sticky and sometimes dangerous situation.