Meet one of our four new dog handlers

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PC Aran Gibbs and Police Dog Hope

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Issued on 18/5/17 at 8:02 a.m.

Aran Gibbs joined Leicestershire Police ten years ago in 2007. He was a response officer at Beaumont Leys and worked on the Neighbourhood Action Team (NAT) before returning to response policing.

Aran only joined the police to become a dog handler. He had a near miss in 2013 when he was next in line for a position in the selection process narrowly missing a place on the Initial Dog Handlers Course before all the austerity cuts. He’s waited patiently for another opportunity which finally came in 2016 when this time he was successful in securing a place on the thirteen week course.

Aran is working with Police Dog Hope - a fifteen month old sable European Shepherd. He said; “I have got my work cut out with Hope. She is aggressive and very powerful. She was such a handful in her early stages that she was taken off the puppy walker because she kept biting them. She had to go to a dog handler from a very young age. She weighs five stone and a bit, which for a bitch is as big as any male dog on the section, so she is very strong and she really doesn’t like other dogs.

“I thought I knew a lot about dog handling but having done the course I realise that the more I have learnt, the more there is out there to learn”

“I am a single dad of two young children so it is a massive commitment and it needs good planning to juggle both, it’s like planning a military operation every day, but we are doing well at working it out. I live on a farm so there is plenty of space for Hope to exercise which also means I can do plenty of training with her. I have got a very special bond with her, which took serious commitment to build spending hours and days sitting, walking, playing and just being around her. She has changed immensely since week one of the course, she certainly has her own mind and it can be challenging at times but I am amazed at how much she has grown into a police dog and matured together as a team to achieve the high standard expected. People see the police dogs rock up to jobs and take for granted or do not realise the amount of time, effort, stress and love that has gone into building such a team. We were doing a search of a building the other day and she was up on her hind legs opening all the doors looking for the suspect, she found him of course!"

Independent assessor John Best from the Police Dog Training School in Surrey has forty years’ experience of working with police dogs. He came to assess the officers and their dogs at the end of the thirteen week course and Aran and Hope passed with flying colours. They are tested as a team on tracking (for people) building searches, obedience, agility, chasing and detaining suspects and property searches for discarded items. John was involved in the breading and initial training of Hope so the pressure to achieve was upped a notch.

Aran continued; “While we were on the course we were walking 18 to 20 miles on some days. When I was on response I was doing 5000 steps a day on my fit bit, however whilst on the course I was doing 23,000 steps a day! I would definitely recommend being a dog handler but you have to put a lot of time into it, you have to be up early every morning for walks, even if you’ve had a late night the night before, and they need walking three times a day even on Christmas Day or your Birthday but I love it and my kids love Hope too they know she’s a working dog and not a pet but they are used to being around dogs as I had a Boxer for 16 years. I have definitely got the best job in the force.”

Hope is sister to another police dog, Harper, who passed the course at the same time. They also have another sister, Hero, and a brother, Hector, who are also police dogs in Beds/Cambs and Herts.

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