UK’s Best Police Dog
Top dog earns the title of ‘Britain’s best police dog’ after making an incredible 142 arrests in 2012.
This means dedicated police dog Visco detained and arrested at least one criminal every three days, wiping the floor with all his competitors.
The safe and sociable German Shepherd and his handler PC Matt Holding, of Staffordshire Police, are proven in statistics to be the most successful partnership of 2012.
The unbeatable duo formed in 2009 after Visco was imported from Germany and worked together ever since, relying heavily on each other’s skills to capture criminals.
Matt said: “We work as a team and we’ve established a very strong bond. I have to believe in Visco and visa versa, we depend on each other.
“Operationally it works so well. We know each other’s strengths and weaknesses and we know our limits. I have an exceptional bond with Visco.
“But he can be frustrating sometimes. He just wants to work all the time it’s like having a child.
“A dog’s mental capacity is a bit like that of an 18 month old baby, it constantly wants attention. But he is one of the family.”
Chris lives with his partner Jo Willis, who is also a dog handler and handles Solo. They met through the unit in 2008 and now have three daughters, Millie, 8, Hattie, 5 and Isla, 3.
Visco, who will be five years old in February, lives outside in the kennels at their home with Solo but their relationship proves slightly strenuous depsite being friendly dogs.
But it was by chance that Visco and Matt were paired.
Matt was originally assigned to another dog when he joined the unit in 2008, but due to behavioural problems, the dog was sent to the military.
The daring duo trained for three months together before they were ready for action and every year Visco receives a new licence.
He has always held the advanced licence, which judges the pair on the dog’s obedience and the control the handler has over the dog.
Together they have experienced an array of trying and testing situations but one in particular stands out above the others for Matt.
He said: “Back in 2009 we were called to attend an English Defence League march in Hanley, Stoke-onTrent where more than 100 members were involved.
“We were being attacked from the front and back as well as trying to protect some of the officers when a male protester struck a female officer on the back of the head.
“I monitored him until I saw him get out of hand again. Then I deployed Visco to detain him.
“Visco was kicked and punched in the process but luckily he wasn’t injured seriously and was able to detain the offender who was then arrested and convicted for violent disorder.
“I think he was given two-and-a-half years in the end and the judge commanded mine and Visco’s bravery. I think that has been the biggest demand on the pair of us just because of the sheer volatility of the people involved.”
“It can take a dog just 30 minutes to pick up a track but obviously it depends on the circumstances. I find tracking the most rewarding because it heavily relies on you as a team.”
“You realise how having a dog helps solve so many more crimes. Without a police dog you perhaps wouldn’t catch as many suspects.
“For the Visco it’s fun, training and work is like playing in the park for him.
“For everything he does successfully I reward him with a ball or something like that. Rarely a snack though.”
Together they work shift patterns of six days on, four days off in one of the most successful police dog support units in the country.
Matt suggested their success could be due to the area they cover and type of crimes that are committed.
The unit also consists of 12 specialist dogs, who are trained to search for a variety of substances and articles.
Some are trained to search for explosives only and are used to scan suspicious packages and carry out searches of areas prior to the arrival of persons such as Ministers and the Royal Family.
Other dogs are used to search for drugs and firearms. Some have additional skills to search for cash.
So far this year, the unit has carried out 365 searches for drugs, firearms and cash.
Matt and Visco were awarded the Divisional Commendation Award last Tuesday (Nov 27) for their good work, continued excellent performance, motivation and achievement.
Dog support unit inspector PC Chris Dawson said: “In training Visco fares very well in comparison to the other dogs, especially with the guidance of his handler. They really put the practice in and we’re really proud.”