“They have given the best years of their lives to protecting the public, they deserve a comfortable retirement too,’ says a Gwent dog handler who is on a mission to support retired police dogs.
Federation member Andy North is one of the driving forces behind Retired Police Dogs of Gwent, a fundraising organisation set up to financially support retired dogs in emergency situations, such as sudden medical procedures.
The group, which was founded by a mixture of current dog handlers, retired dog handlers and several people in the community who have a love for dogs, is in its infancy but has already raised thousands of pounds for retired canines that have served Gwent police.
“I’ve literally relied on my dogs to make sure I get home safely. They give the best years of their lives to protect the public, it’s time for them to be repaid. They deserve a comfortable retirement too,” says Andy, who has been in the Force for 22 years, with the past 14 as a dog handler.
“The things these dogs can do is incredible, they do a fantastic job, it’s quite unbelievable really.
“People get support when they retire, and we think dogs should have the same. After all, a police dog’s life should not be over, just because they’ve left the police.”
The group aims to offer emergency financial support when a retired police dog needs it most.
“We are here to help out with emergency treatment situations, and any unexpected financial burdens,” Andy explained.
Andy is the owner of two working police dogs, German shepherd Ozma (8) and golden labrador, Max, who is three. His two retired police dogs, eight-year-old Noah and 12-year-old Eddie also live with him.
Andy and Noah.
“Being a dog handler is a job like no other, you put your heart and soul into training your dogs, it’s very rewarding,” Andy says.
“And you build a bond with your dogs, a bond that goes above and beyond the bond you’d create with just a normal pet. I spend more time with my dogs than I do with my wife and daughter, they become your best mates and your protector.”
When you watch the dogs work, Andy says you can see that they have a clear love for the job.
“Every time they find someone, locate a piece of stolen property or find some drugs, it’s the same elation from them that you see on their very first day,” added Andy.
“They get a real enjoyment in what they do.”
Since its launch in June 2021, Retired Police Dogs of Gwent have run several online auctions and raffles.
“It’s been a difficult start due to the pandemic and not being able to fundraise in person but we’re hoping now the restrictions have come to an end, we’ll be able to do a lot more going forward,” said Andy.
“As we grow, we will also be aiming to achieve official charity status, which will be great.”
Find out more about Retired Police Dogs of Gwent and how you can support the charity.