Retired Police Dogs will soon be able to benefit from their own pension scheme following the foundation of the Retired Lancashire Police Dogs Benevolent Fund.
The scheme, launched by Sheila Maw, chairman of Lancashire Police Authority’s Ribble Valley Community Group, is aimed at helping police handlers look after their dogs when they become too old to work.
Lancashire Police Force currently has 55 police dogs and 36 dog handlers. The cost of training a police dog, as well as keeping it in food and vets bills, can be as much as £20,000 during the course of its working life.
However once a police dog has retired usually between eight and 10 years, the financial responsibility of keeping the dog is with the owner, usually the police dog handler.
Mrs Maw, a former Ribble Valley Borough Council Leader, believes the scheme will benefit handlers financially, when otherwise they might have to face the heartbreaking decision of having their beloved dog put down or forced into finding a new home for them.
So far there has been excellent local support for the scheme including Blackburn Rovers and Burnley FC where police dogs are used.
Mrs Maw hopes that the scheme will encourage other constabularies to follow suit.
“These animals have given valuable service and in many cases have had their lives put in danger as with their handlers - they should not be put aside on retirement” said Mrs Maw.
After conducting a survey of all constabularies in England and Wales the (R.P.D.B.F) found it was not the practice to fund retired police dogs and only one gave out a lump sum on retirement. The aim of the scheme is to raise a minimum amount of £5,000.
A police spokesman for Lancashire Police said the force fully supported the scheme.
Future funding will be obtained from donations and organised events. Anyone interested in helping or providing financial help is asked to contact Mrs Maw on 01254 823136.