June 2, 2014 | Community News
Serving police dogs from across County Durham are set to become models for the day at a photoshoot for a charity calendar which will raise money to help support them in their retirement.
The Durham Retirement Police Dogs Benevolent Fund, which is better known as Paws Up, has invited 25 members of the Royal Photographic Society (RPS) to capture the dogs in action during a bespoke training day at the Mount Oswald site in Durham City on Saturday 8 June.
The photos taken at the invitation-only event by the RPS members, who will be coming to Durham from right across the country, will subsequently be made available for Paws Up for use in their 2015 charity calendar.
Launched in June last year, Paws Up works to assist the owners of retired police dogs, who could be their handlers, other police officers or ordinary members of the public, with the day to day costs of looking after them.
It is wholly the owner’s responsibility to cover the cost of looking after the dogs when they retire, which is usually between the ages of eight and ten, and no provision is currently made to assist with the considerable vets’ bills that can regularly need paying as part of caring for an older animal.
Paws Up produced its first calendar at the end of last year, with the whole print run of 500 being sold, and will release a 2015 edition towards the end of the year.
The Mount Oswald site is being developed by local family-owned business The Banks Group to encompass executive housing, an education quarter, new formal and informal public open spaces and a range of new community facilities.
Banks has made the Mount Oswald site available to Durham Constabulary’s Dog Support Unit (DSU) to enable its handlers to carry out training exercises with their dogs in a range of different natural environments at various different times of the day.
Paws Up puts on a number of public displays and events through the year to raise both funds and awareness, and has already gained substantial support from the public and businesses both in the UK and overseas.
It is the only organisation of its type in the north of England, and DSU dog handler PC Ian Squire, who set up the charity, has assisted other forces across the UK in launching equivalent organisations for their own retired animals.
He says: “Our police dogs provide a tremendous service to communities across County Durham over many years, but there can be significant costs associated with taking on a retired dog, especially around the veterinary treatment that older animals can often need.
“We therefore set up Paws Up to help provide the best possible life for them in their retirement, and the public response so far has been fantastic.
“The photoshoot will not only give our guests a real photographic challenge of capturing our animals at work, but also provides us with hundreds of high quality images that we can use on our website, literature and merchandise throughout the year, as well as on next year’s calendar.
“The Mount Oswald site provides an excellent range of training environments for dogs that are in active service, and its central location means that we can easily reach any call outs that come in while training is taking place, so we’re grateful to Banks for giving us the opportunity to use it.”
John Ruddick, senior property development manager at The Banks Group, adds: “Durham Constabulary approached us about using the Mount Oswald site as a site for police dog training before development work properly begins, and we’ve been more than happy to help this very worthwhile cause.”