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Sussex police show their ‘Puppy Love’ this Valentines Day

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Swap a candlelit supper for a rawhide chew in front of the fire and a bunch of red roses for a ball on a rope and you have every dog’s recipe for the perfect Valentine’s Day.

sussex police dogs
PD Mason (top left), PD Basil (top right), PD Basil and PD Gem (bottom left), PD Ollie (bottom right).

Police dog handlers in Sussex are showing the love for their canine friends this 14 February 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 and while a lot of their work is behind the scenes, passengers may see them working around the public areas of the airport. Basil, 8, 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. Talk about worth their weight in gold!

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.

If you are interested in becoming a police puppy foster family, you can email kennelattendants@surrey.pnn.police.uk for more information, but be aware that when they go off to dog school, they probably won’t be coming back!

Health & Wellbeing

Stay healthy and well with Wellbeing Month at Crawley Library

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Next week marks the start of Wellbeing Month across all 36 West Sussex libraries.

Throughout March, libraries will be celebrating all the ways that books, reading and local libraries can help people stay healthy and well.

Special events taking place include:

  • Wellbeing MOT’s – offering advice, help and support on healthy diet, weight loss, stopping smoking, reducing alcohol, and more.
  • West Sussex MIND – will be advising residents about their new campaign ‘Moving Minds’ and providing information about the mental health services they offer.
  • Apetito drop-in and free taster – come and sample some of the delicious foods on offer from West Sussex County Council’s Meals on Wheels provider Apetito, who provide hot meals to elderly and vulnerable people across the county (Southwick library only).

There will also be NHS health checks, reminiscence taster sessions, story walks for children, games for families. Plus regular events including Knit and Natter, Relax with Colouring and ‘Melody for the Mind’, a singing group for people with dementia and their carers.

‘Melody for the Mind’ sessions are currently run at Broadfield, East Grinstead and Southwick Libraries, with a brand-new session starting at Chichester on Thursday 5 March.

Duncan Crow, Cabinet Member for Fire and Rescue and Communities, said:

“Libraries always have communities at the heart of everything they do, and this month is no exception.

“Wellbeing, both physical and emotional, is so important and the programme that has been created by the libraries team for Wellbeing Month has a variety of great activities, events and reading that will hopefully make our residents feel happier and healthier in mind and body.”

All libraries will have displays of books chosen by library staff to lift the readers mood and help them feel better. The genres range from uplifting poetry to non-fiction titles with practical advice for difficult times.

To find out more on everything happening during Wellbeing Month at your local library and throughout the rest of the year, visit www.westsussex.gov.uk/libraries

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