One of South Yorkshire’s finest police dogs has been enjoying the Christmas period after bowing out from an illustrious action-packed career.
The only task German Shepherd Alfie will be doing is eating Christmas leftovers and lounging in front of the fire.
Brave Alfie has many accolades and arrests to his name, including one occasion when he tackled a man waving two knives around during a domestic argument.
But crooks and villains who choose to break the law on our streets shouldn’t relax any time soon.
That’s because 18-month German Shepherd Kobi is stepping up to the plate after an intense training schedule, starting as a young pup.
Alfie, was one of the first dogs to have been bred as part of South Yorkshire Police’s Puppy Breeding Programme, which was established in 2008 at the dog school based at Niagara in Hillsborough.
He spent his first year with a volunteer puppy walker, completing training and assessments to prepare him for his new life of fighting crime.
As soon as Alfie became a bona fide police dog, he was paired up with SYP dog handler PC Les Needham, who said: “It’s a great feeling of having total confidence in your dog, and Alfie, or Alf as I call him, has been exceptional. I’ve lost count of the number of jobs and arrests we’ve been out to over the years.
“Earlier this year, we were in the car in Pitsmoor on a night shift when a driver erratically pulled out on me and then failed to stop when requested. I pursued him for a short distance but lost sight of the car.
“Only minutes later as I was trawling the streets, I spotted the car on its roof with the driver scrambling out of the passenger window and running off into thick undergrowth, again refusing to stop when requested, so I deployed Alf.
“Alf successfully detained him, and even when the man started punching him trying to escape, he showed great courage and determination, holding on until I gave him the command to leave.
“The man was later charged with a whole host of offences, as he’d stolen the car he was driving in a burglary. He ended up with a three-and-a-half year prison sentence.
“Thanks to Alfie, that criminal is behind bars for Christmas.”
Harry Morton, SYP’s Dog Training School Manager, who bred Alfie in 2008, said: “Any dog owner can tell you that the bond they have with their dog is very strong, and I believe this bond is even more so as a dog handler.
“They rely heavily upon each other in high pressure and dangerous situations, and there has to be a heightened level of communication and understanding between them, which is only developed through mutual trust and building a strong relationship.
“Alfie has been a fantastic police dog and he thoroughly deserves to put his paws up and relax now, and let Kobi take over and do all the hard work!”
It won’t be long before the next generation of polcie dogs is coming through.
Eight puppies born in September are hoping to follow in the pawsteps of Alfie and Kobi.
Five boys and three girls, were born to a German Shepherd mother and Belgian Malinois father.
The pups, Quadie, Q, Quattro, Quartz, Quantum, Quinn, Queenie and Qjack, are now 13-weeks old and fully settled in with their volunteer puppy walkers and will be spending their first Christmas with their adopted families.