Wanted: loving home for future police dog
Westcountry police are hoping to sniff out a pet-lover willing to give a future police dog a nine-month home until she is ready to start intensive training with the force after her first birthday.
Betty, an 11-week-old German Shepherd, who was nearly retired before she began because of a heart problem, needs a family.
Devon and Cornwall Police canine development officer Paul Glennon said: "Betty underwent her routine medical along with her three brothers to start in the puppy scheme but unfortunately was diagnosed with a heart murmur.
"Veterinary advice was the murmur would prevent her being a police dog.
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"Plans were put in place to find her a suitable pet home subject to a full cardiac specialist examination to determine the level of future care she might need.
"The cardiac specialist found there was nothing serious to worry about and passed her fit to start on her journey to be a police dog."
He added: "Her three brothers are currently all with their new puppy-walker families and we are now keen to find a family for Betty. Since she was diagnosed two weeks ago she has been living with our canine development officer pending seeing the cardiac specialist.
"We are now keen for her to follow her brothers in a new home with her own puppy-walker."
Once she is fully trained, Betty will help police officers search for missing people, track down stolen goods, keep order among crowds and chase down and detain suspects.
Whoever takes her in will get training and socialisation advice from the police dog training school.
The force will also pay for food and veterinary bills during the nine-month stint.
"What is most important is that we find the right people who have the time, patience and determination to give our dogs the best start in life," Mr Glennon added.
"All puppy-walkers must have a settled family background, a secure garden and be willing to undertake daily exercise, grooming and care with the dog.
"Ideal applicants will have previous experience caring for dogs but what is most important to us is that they share our aim to produce a well-balanced, confident and social dog.
"It is very rewarding for both the dog and the family, and maybe the hardest thing will be handing her back when she is ready."
Police would like the temporary owner to expose Betty to a variety of environments, such as traffic, crowds and town centres.
Anyone interested in becoming a puppy-walker should call the dog training school on 01392 452410.