Tasmania Police volunteers to raise puppies for Victoria Police development program

Four German Shepherd puppies will be fostered by police officer volunteers from Tasmania Police tomorrow as part of a Victoria Police pilot puppy development program, designed to raise future police dogs.

To ensure the puppies develop the skills required for a potential career in police work, the volunteers and puppies will work together with local breeders Garsova Kennels, dog trainer and ex-military dog handler Ben Barnes and the Victoria Police Dog Squad.

The eight-week-old male puppies selected from the ‘R’ litter will be raised and socialised over the next 12 months. ‘Raffer, Rocket, Rico and Reba’ will also learn general purpose police dog skills such as obedience, tracking and searching. One puppy will be fostered by Ben Barnes and will be used as a local benchmark for the program. Another puppy ‘Razor’ will also be a benchmark student and will be raised by an experienced Dog Squad Officer at Victoria Police.

“It’s great that we’ve been invited to be part of the pilot program for Victoria Police. Working with police dogs is an exciting and rewarding opportunity,” said Tasmania Police dog handler Sergeant Iain Shepherd.

“Based on the success of this pilot program, we’re hoping that it can be opened up to other responsible volunteers of the Tasmanian community, who aren’t serving police officers.”

Previously, puppies were sent interstate for fostering however the pilot program sees the puppies stay within the state during the development stage. Volunteers from Tasmania Police were initially invited to participate in the pilot with the hope that future programs can be offered to volunteers from the broader Tasmanian community.

Just like guide dogs, working police dogs need development and socialisation from an early age. Puppies that achieve a basic standard of social skills and behaviour at around 12-14 months of age and graduate from the development program, will undertake further training and move into service work for Victoria Police.