Cooper the Staffordshire Bull Terrier has made history after becoming the first of his breed to join the Staffordshire police force.
The dog, abandoned and left at a rescue centre in Devon, is undergoing training to become a fully fledged police dog where he will help sniff out cash, drugs, and firearms.
Animal charities hope the force’s latest recruit will help show everyone how versatile and talented the breed can be in a bid to counteract the often negative press Staffies receive and to help other abandoned Staffies find new homes.
Cooper, who has his own Twitter account to document his training, already has over 2,700 fans following his life after he came from the RSPCA’s West Hatch Animal Centre in Taunton.
PC Lee Web, a dog handler from Avon and Somerset Police who has experience of handling Staffies, found Cooper after he heard that Staffordshire Police were keen to recruit one of their namesake breed to join their ranks.
Trainers have already been working with Cooper for a fortnight where he has demonstrated good discipline and a keen nose. He is joining Staffordshire Police dog handler PC Tim Moss and his current dog, Henry, a four-year-old Belgian Shepherd.
Previously a response officer in Stafford, PC Moss said: “In the past, the force has used dogs like spaniels and Labradors for detection but others have used Staffies and had a lot of success.
“Our Chief Constable, Gareth Morgan, was previously at Avon and I think he was keen for us to have a Staffy here as well.”
Cooper will be living with PC Moss and Henry, and even though he only turns two in May is already showing an aptitude for the job.
“He is doing really well and this could open it up to more Staffies being used,” said PC Moss.
“The detection dogs save us so much time as suspects will hide things like drugs in some very unusual places. Whereas we would be searching for a while the dogs are straight on to a scent and can point us in the right direction.
“I will be out with Henry and Cooper at the same time and use them for different situations. People are really interested in Cooper and this is the ﬁrst time we have set up a Twitter account for a police dog to show the progress. I can’t believe how many followers he has!”
Cooper will have to undergo between six and eight weeks of training with his trainer John Maunders of the Staffordshire Police Dog Support Unit.
“We’re delighted to welcome Cooper to Staffordshire Police as our very first Staffordshire Bull Terrier,” said Maunders.
“He’s got a long way to go yet though and the standard of training is extremely high.
“If he passes with flying colours, Cooper will specialise in helping officers search for drugs, firearms and cash.”
Local charities, too, are delighted by the news. Cassie Fletcher from Animal Lifeline, based in Cellarhead, said: “We get so many Staffordshire Bull Terriers and other bull breeds. They make such loving family dogs and we will never turn them away.
“Cooper is one of the lucky ones and I am so pleased to see the police are giving the breed a chance.”
Update May 2018
Cooper passed his training with flying colours, and is now officially PD Cooper!