A DUTCH police dog is taking to the region’s streets as part of West Midlands Police’s latest plan to catch crooks.
Bart is the force’s first Dutch Herder in the four-legged crime-fighting corps – joining his mostly German Shepherd colleagues on the beat.
After teaming up with his handler Keith Bennett when he was just eight weeks old, Bart went on to graduate from West Midlands Police’s award-winning training programme with distinction before hitting the streets.
Dog handler and trainer, PC Terry Arnett, said: “Herders are very sociable dogs, confident and highly driven – it makes them potentially excellent police dogs and we’re confident Bart will be a huge success.
“Bart has been trained to locate and catch crime suspects and uncover any stolen property, weapons or clothing − evidence that’s often crucial in securing court convictions.
“He’s only been on the streets a few days but the early signs are good.
“We have kept another Herder as a brood bitch and all being well hope to have our first litter later this year.”
The jet black pup was among six Dutch Herders bought by the force last year as part of plans to introduce new breeds to the canine force.
Based at its award-winning centre in Balsall Common, the force’s breeding programme welcomed its first litter of German Shepherd/Dutch Herder cross-breed puppies – but Bart is the force’s first full Herder on patrol.
Breed scheme manager Dave Raymond, added: “More than 80 per cent of the dogs we breed and train in-house go on to be operational dogs – and the scourge of criminals.
“The dogs regularly find hidden items not immediately obvious to officers and which would otherwise take much longer to locate, or not be found at all.
“Our dogs play an important role in catching offenders and keeping the public safe.
“The breed scheme allows us to plan ahead and ensure we have the right number of dogs ready and able to replace ones who retire.”
Four of the other Dutch Herders trained by the force have been sold to other police forces, including Bart’s sister Ziva who’s now with Derbyshire Police, while another has been taken on by the prison service.
West Midlands Police operates one of the largest, most successful police dog breeding schemes in the country – having trained more than 1,000 German Shepherds since its launch in 1994.
The centre has been awarded Assured Breeder Accreditation by the Kennel Club in recognition of its commitment to dog welfare.