Donation from local businesses to help Woodstock police transition to new police dog

A donation from three local businesses will help the Woodstock police eventually transition to a new police dog. But while the transition period is set in place, locals don’t have to worry since the most popular public worker in Oxford County won’t be retiring any time soon.

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A donation from three local businesses will help the Woodstock police eventually welcome a new police dog.

The businesses, which asked to remain anonymous, provided a combined $8,500 to help with the training and eventual purchase of the force’s new police dog.

“We’re identifying that, while Striker’s still able to do his job, we need to transition to a point to get another dog,” Woodstock police Deputy Chief Rod Wilkinson said. “It can take a long time to train a new police dog on searching and tracking and drug identification.”

The transition is similar to the approach taken when an officer replaces a colleague who is leaving the service. Similar to other professions, a transition plan is vital in ensuring continuity. Striker will continue to do his job, but the police will have the ability to begin the switch to a new canine.

Wilkinson said it takes about 16 weeks to initially train a new German shepherd on tracking and searching. There’s also an additional course for narcotics and explosive detection that runs for six to eight weeks. Once the department identifies a dog to buy, it also has to set up a mentorship program if a new handler is selected.

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The police dog and its handler live and work together and have a constant connection, meaning it’s a significant commitment.

Woodstock police Chief Daryl Longworth thanked the donors on behalf of the police during the February police services board meeting.

He noted it’s common for community donations to help with the program while the staff report highlighted previous donations that helped with the purchase and training of police dogs..

While the transition period is set in place, locals don’t have to worry since the most popular public worker in Oxford County won’t be retiring any time soon. It also leaves the door open for Striker to continue to do community service work.

“He’s great for the community and he does great work with community service,” Wilkinson said. “He works really well with people and kids and a lot of people really like him.”

The training is expected to take place later this year, which would mean the new police dog could take up the role some time in 2022.

Striker, a German shepherd and Malinois shepherd cross, was bred in Hungary and sent to a broker in Indianapolis, where he was purchased. He was trained with the Waterloo Regional Police and taught how to work with Woodstock police Const. Dan Skillings. He’s the third police dog the service has had.

Woodstock police’s officer Striker, the popular canine for the local service.
Woodstock police’s officer Striker, the popular canine for the local service. jpg, WD

Striker – whose popularity in being a very good boy only grows – is in his sixth year of service. The staff report noted police dogs typically work for five to seven years of their life.

When police dogs retire, they’re often sold by the service’s municipality to the handler for $1 and take up a comfortable life as a regular pet.

Striker is popular in social media posts. A Facebook Live last May featuring Striker and a retired Guelph police dog, General, had nearly 5,000 views. He’s also a fixture during school presentations and is the most asked about officer on the force.

“We don’t want to leave ourselves where Striker’s done and there’s nothing else in the works. … For us to have a smooth transition, this is the best way to do this.”

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