Ever wondered what it takes to become a Royal Air Force Police Dog Handler?
We invited Corporal Richie Butler who has been a Royal Air Force Police dog handler for 9 years, and is currently employed at RAF Northolt in the General Police Duties section to tell us more.
He has been working with his current dog, Air Dog (AD) Eron, for 3 years. They conducted a 6 month tour of the Falkland Islands together, where they worked alongside the General Police Section and Royal Falkland Island Police, and were employed to carry out public order patrols, scent tracking and open area property search.
To become a Police Dog Handler within the RAF, you firstly have to attend a Basic Police Course at the Defence Police School, Portsmouth, followed by a 3 week Patrol Dog Handlers Course. This involves basic dog handling techniques, safety procedures, canine first aid and rules of engagement training. Following a minimum of 3 years on Patrol Dog duties, a handler may apply to specialise by completing a further 9 week Service Police Dog Handler course. All dog courses are conducted at the Defence Animal Centre, Melton Mowbray.
The training for all specialisations of Military Working Dog can take months at a time, with continuous training being conducted on a daily basis for the duration of their working career. Hundreds of dogs are trained each year and are sourced from all over the world. AD Eron was procured from Holland and is a 5 year old German Shepherd.
Corporal Butler finds his job incredibly rewarding and said: “Every day is different, you are never bored. Dog handling is based on trust, it’s like working with a friend, and you have to be able to trust your partner to do their half of the job. The dog becomes a part of your life and family very quickly.”