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Puppies enjoy their first meal

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Published on Apr 11, 2012

A litter of furry new recruits has arrived at Essex Police and we need some help to name them.

German Shepherd Steffi gave birth to eight healthy puppies on Monday, March 19, 2012 and Essex Police has launched a competition to give members of the public the chance to name two of the new arrivals.

Four of the five male puppies and two of the three female puppies have already been given Olympic themed names in honour of the fast approaching London 2012 games, but Essex Police is giving residents the chance to name the remaining pups.

Bolt, Jackson, Daley, Jessica, Seb, Zara and the two unnamed pups were born at Essex Police's Dog Unit in Chelmsford, after Steffi was bred with a German Shepherd belonging to Greater Manchester Police.

Steffi has never been an operational police dog but was bought by Essex Police with a view to breed because her strong genes singled her out as the ideal mum to police dog pups.

Everyone is invited to get their thinking caps on and put forward their Olympic themed suggestions for one male puppy and one female puppy by visiting the Essex Police website at www.essex.police.uk/puppycomp and completing a short online form.

Some Olympic themed names have already been taken by the other puppies so anyone wanting to enter will have to be extra creative!

The lucky winners will be invited to Essex Police's Dog Unit to meet, cuddle and have photographs taken with the puppy they have named.

Members of the public will be able to make their suggestions until midday on Friday, April 13, 2012 after which time staff at the Dog Unit will shortlist their three favourite names for both the male puppy and female puppy. The shortlisted names will then be put to public vote via a poll on the Essex Police website on Monday, April 16, 2012 for a period of one week.

The winning names will be those with the most votes on Monday, April 23, 2012. If the winning names have been suggested more than once, the names of everyone who made the suggestions will be put in a hat and chosen at random. A full list of competition rules, term and conditions can be seen at www.essex.police.uk/puppycomp

Pc Dave Frost has been looking after Steffi and her puppies. He said: "Steffi and her puppies are doing really well. She's a great mum and is taking good care of the new arrivals.

"We always try to name police puppies around a theme. In 2010 we used the World Cup and this year with the Olympics just around the corner, it seemed like a good choice.

"There are two main benefits to breeding our own police dogs -- stronger dogs on the streets of Essex and cost effectiveness.

"In the past we've relied on buying dogs from breeders and other police forces or donations of gift dogs. Breeding police dogs using parents with good genes means we can produce stronger, more effective police dogs that, together with their handlers, bring quicker results for the people of Essex."

"Everyone at the Dog Unit is looking to naming our new puppies with help from the people of Essex."

The litter is the third from Essex Police's puppy breeding programme which launched in 2010.

All of the puppies will stay with mum until they are paired with a puppy walker at around eight weeks old. Puppy walkers are volunteer members of the public who care for the puppies until they are ready to begin training as general purpose police dogs at just over a year old. They don't train the puppies but aim to give them the best start to their careers by introducing them to as many environments as possible from noisy train stations to crowded shopping centres.

When they are old enough, the dogs will leave their puppy walkers and be paired with a police officer dog handler to begin a 13-week training course during which they learn to track, search and detain potential suspects.

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