Why are most police dogs imported

A dog's life in the service of the police

Bremen. Dogs also have a 40-hour week and are entitled to vacation - namely when they are in the police force. They guard properties, track down drugs and protect officers on duty. And they have to train a lot. A training report.

Sometimes animals are like humans: if you want to achieve something, you have to do something for it. If you are out of the woods, the seriousness of life begins and vocational training, in the happiest case years of professional activity and finally a well-deserved retirement follow - but only if the person willing to work has certain qualifications. Teamwork, good health and respect for authority are part of it, but having fun at work is also extremely important.

For Veit the seriousness of life began the week before last, even though Veit is only a year old. Veit is a German shepherd and has just started training to become a police dog. His partner, boss and friend is Raimund, who has been working with dogs for the Bremen police for 30 years and does not want to read his last name in the newspaper.

However, Veit's work is not that serious yet. He should be easily prepared for the mission. Raimund motivates Veit to get his toys. Raimund has that in his hand and won't let go of it. The dog tugs at it until Raimund gives the order to stop. If the dog obeys, there is meat sausage as a reward. "We also do attention exercises in which the dog should look at its handler and understand and carry out his commands, no matter what happens around them," explains the service dog trainer.

There are currently 17 Bremen police dogs in action

Veit is the youngest in the team. A total of 17 dogs are currently used by the Bremen police, one dog has just been removed for a limited period. He is on maternity leave with his mistress and dog handler - there is also that. Of course, a police dog does not receive a separate salary, only the dog handler. The salary consists of financial support for the care and the feed. And a police dog also gets a vacation. In most cases he spends it with his dog handler. "But it is also possible that we will pay for the accommodation in a boarding house," says Ulrich Spiedt, the head of the service dog team.

All police dogs live at home with their handlers and complete a 40-hour week with them. This usually includes some training units in the mornings and on-call duty at various locations for the rest of the time. "If break-ins have just taken place, we show more presence on site with the dogs," says Spiedt.

However, the team can also be withdrawn from there and called to action, for example to track down fire accelerators after a fire or if a drug detection dog is needed at the airport. The Bremen police dogs are trained in two ways: In the basic training they learn to protect people. This is followed by special training either as a drug detection dog, explosives detection dog or incendiary detection dog. "That always depends on the need," says Spiedt.

Aptitude test before the start of training

German and Belgian shepherds are the only four-legged friends in the service of the Bremen police. Training begins when the dog, like Veit, is one year old. However, like humans, they must first pass an aptitude test. "We test the dog's play instinct, do a character test and examine his health," explains Ulrich Spiedt. Since the dogs are trained to play, a pronounced play instinct is of great importance.

The basic training takes about ten weeks. Then there are six months of work in the practice and finally the four-week so-called "final basic training" and the police dog test, which must be repeated annually. Only then does the special training begin in one of the three areas mentioned.

In Bremen, police dogs are often used at the airport, train station and stadium. These missions should be a game for the dogs, but the tension in the process can be transferred to them. "Even if the dog stays in the car, he will notice that there are a lot of people outside, for example at a soccer game, and that something is going on," describes one dog handler. And the dog knows that his person is out there and wants to support him.

The police cannot do without the dogs. "I can do more with a few dogs than with a lot of police officers," says relay leader Spiedt. People simply have more respect for dogs than for other people.

A police dog can complete around ten years of service. After that, he will be retired. "90 percent of the colleagues then keep the dog," says Spiedt. Like Raimund. Before Veit he led another dog, which is now enjoying his old age with him.