Police dog plucks offender from reservoir
29 February 2012
A DANGEROUS driver was plucked from a Solihull reservoir by a West Midlands Police dog who tracked him down hiding under a fishing jetty.
The man, from Elmdon in Solihull, leapt into the freezing water of Earlswood Reservoir following a police pursuit on January 29 believing it would throw Police Dog 'Flint' off his trail.
However, Flint – a three-year-old German Shepherd (pictured) who hailed from the force's own police dog breeding scheme – led officers to the water's edge before his barks indicated someone was submerged beneath the pontoon.
At Warwick Crown Court yesterday (Feb 28) the 28-year-old was jailed for six months after admitting aggravated vehicle taking – a charge which included dangerous driving – plus driving without a licence or insurance.
The police pursuit began just after 6pm on January 29 when traffic officers detected a stolen Ford Fiesta – taken from an address in Hermitage Road, Solihull, a few weeks earlier – driving along the M40 near junction 15.
It was followed onto the M42 and then the A34 towards Solihull as it failed to stop for 'blue light' patrol cars, ran through red lights and was clocked driving in excess of 50mph in 30mph zones.
The driver eventually jumped from the vehicle near Earlswood Reservoir and tried to give officers the slip by fleeing through bushes.
Police Dog Flint's handler, PC Mark Kent, said: "Officers managed to follow footprints but then lost track of the offender when he ran through a stream towards a crossroads where several paths met.
"Any offender who thinks they can shake a police dog off the trail by running through streams needs to think again because they're able to follow airborne scents on top of the water.
"Flint tracked through the stream and along a path to the water's edge where he indicated to me someone was hiding under the jetty. It was a great piece of tracking work – Flint enjoyed a treat whilst the offender was pulled shivering from the reservoir."
West Midlands Police has been operating a breed programme for German Shepherds since 1994 from its kennels and training centre in Balsall Common.
The scheme has evolved and developed considerably and now produces upwards of eight litters annually, involving something in the region of 40 - 60 puppies
It aims to ensure the force can effectively plan for future police dog retirements and replacements, and with some degree of certainty that puppies graduating from the programme will be temperamentally sound, healthy, free from any genetic disorders and, most importantly, be from good working blood lines.
Last year the scheme was adopted into the Kennel Club's Assured Breeder Scheme – widely seen as the benchmark for responsible breeders in the UK.
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