Rescue dog Sid makes the grade with South Wales Police
“It’s a once in a lifetime story,” says experienced handler and instructor PC Andy Goodall after training an abandoned dog to be part of South Wales Police’s dog section.
Police dog Sid, a 17-month-old Belgian Malinois, had been brought in off the streets by Cardiff Dogs home before being taken on for training by South Wales Police.
South Wales Police Federation member Andy worked with Sid to ensure he passed his assessments to become a fully licensed police dog.
And now the pair are working together to protect the public of South Wales.
Andy, who has worked on the dog section since 2004 and became an instructor in 2016, said: “As a dog handler, it’s once in a lifetime that something like this would happen.
"You could go a whole career and a story like this doesn’t come along.”
Police dog Sid's is a once in a lifetime story, says his handler PC Andy Goodall.
Sid quickly took to his training when he joined the Force earlier this year - but problems lay ahead.
Andy said: “The instructor taking the course identified early on he had the attributes to potentially be a working dog for us.
“At first he was excelling, and was ahead of the other dogs on the course in his progress and development.”
However, Sid started to have difficulty with his tracking and other dogs were developing ahead of him.
“The basic course for dogs and novice handlers is a really high intensity environment and, although we’re given time to work with them and will be given extra time if we need to, we have to turn out dogs that are going to do a job and keep us and the public safe,” Andy said.
“It was a difficult decision as the instructor taking the course really liked Sid, but he had to make that call and decided to remove him from the course.”
Andy had lost his police dog Shadow, a Dutch herder, to illness in May and was asked by the instructor if he would work with Sid.
He explained: “Over the years they’ve given me dogs that they’ve tried everything with to see if there’s anything I can fix, any solutions to niggly problems they sometimes develop.
“It’s a massive responsibility for us when we get a dog we’re trying to get through the licensing standard. We have to try everything to give that dog the best chance of succeeding.
“We don’t want to leave a stone unturned.”
So Andy took him home and out of the school environment.
“The breed are emotional dogs and need to be with people,” he said. “They’re better when they're settled.
“He settled in really well and I was able to develop his tracking, working on the really good start that he’d had. I developed him to a point that he passed his licence."
Sid is now working with Andy as a general purpose police dog, which can involve tracking suspects, searching for missing and vulnerable people, or recovering stolen property.
Andy added: “As I was in need of a dog he’s working with me.
“He’s gone from being a stray on the streets of Cardiff to working throughout South Wales and he’s doing really well.”
Best job in policing
Andy described being a dog handler as “the best kept secret in the police service”.
“It’s absolutely the best job,” he said. “It’s a massive privilege to be able to work with these animals.
“They really are amazing creatures that we get to develop and work with and spend our working lives with.
“I spend more time with my working dogs than I do with my family, because I’m with them my whole working day and much of my time off as well.
“Sid will have a fantastic life. He gets the best food, veterinary care whenever it’s needed and he gets to have a long and happy and healthy life doing things he enjoys doing, because if they don’t enjoy it they’re not going to do it.”
Sid recently hit the news headlines when his story was shared by South Wales Police on its website and social media.
And Andy joked that he’s trying not to let Sid’s new-found fame go to his head.
“He’s developing quite the fan base,” he said. “The public love asking us about our dogs, and we’re always happy if we have time to stop and chat.
“I’ve spoken to a few people who have heard his story through social media, so I’m trying to keep his paws on the ground!”