Explore: Animal care

Drug Dog Handler
HMPS Blunderstone

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Alan N

00:02 My name’s Alan N. I work for Her, Her Majesty’s Prison Service, the Eastern Area Drug Dogs, working at HMP Blunderstone.

00:10 They’re part of my family, they live in the garden. When, when they’re not at work they’re just like normal dogs. They go to the beach, they go to the woods, they have a, just relax time same as myself when I’m not at work.

00:25 There’s two types of drug dogs, a proactive drug dog, which is Harley, here and a passive drug dog, Prince. A proactive drug dog searches places like areas, prisoners’ cells, vehicles, workshops, looking for the, the scent of drugs. The passive drug dog, Prince, he does basically the same job, however he searches people.

00:52 I was never any good at school, I didn’t like school and because I felt as if everybody was in front of me, I didn’t think I was intelligent enough to gain qualifications, so I went into the path of, I was basically useless, you know, that’s the worst thing that I ever did, not getting any qualifications. It’s been so hard to get where I am now, it really has. I’ve got GCSEs now which I’ve done obviously through the prison service as well. The prison service has been very supportive.

01:31 I didn’t know my real dad, but my stepdad was a warrant officer in the army but that didn’t really appeal to me. I didn’t want to do the military, I wanted to work so I went out and found the first job I could which was Sun Hill Industries, it was the only job around at the time so I didn’t want to leave school and be unemployed.

01:57 Because I wasn’t learning a trade there Richard Shipbuilders was my next job and they were taking on apprenticeships for plater welders and I was nearly finished my training when I got made redundant from there. I went to work for a welding company in Great Yarmouth and I was with them for a number of years until they closed in 1994.

02:28 Gutted. With two small children I needed to work and had a mortgage, I had bills to pay, but that was my motivation and I just saw this newspaper in a newsagent which a jobsearch newspaper, so I just picked it up and started looking through and it had, it had everywhere in there and I just happened to see an advert around, around for prison auxiliaries at the Mount and I thought, I’m gonna go for it and I applied for it and luckily I got the job. I was only unemployed a matter of about a week, two weeks maximum.

03:13 Last year I got awarded the Martin Narey trophy for being the best disciplined drug dog handler in the service for last year and this year.

03:27 I had no experience whatsoever, there was people who went for the job that had lots of experience but I had no dog experience whatsoever.

03:37 You know, if I could turn the clock back I, I would go, you know, I would have done better at school. But I wouldn’t change, I wouldn’t change what I’ve got now. Like it might have been, it might have been a lot easier for me if I’d have done well at school. If you’re not very good at school, don’t listen to people telling you that you’re not good, knocking your confidence down. I’ve been there, I know what it’s like.

04:00 END

Drug Dog Handler Alan describes his dogs – “They are part of the family, they live in the garden, when they’re not at work, they’re just like normal dogs.” He did not enjoy school – “I felt as if everybody was in front of me.” Alan has since gone on to take his qualifications as an adult and find a job he loves.

More information about Animal care services occupations n.e.c.

average salary

The UK average salary is £29,813

average weekly hours

There are 37.5 hours in the average working week

33%  male 
67%  female 

The UK workforce is 47% female and 53% male

Future employment

Future employment?

? Workers in this unit group care for animals held in kennels, stables, zoos and similar establishments, provide specialised training, grooming, clipping and trimming services for animals, and searches for and captures stray or nuisance dogs in public areas and perform a variety of animal care tasks not elsewhere classified in MINOR GROUP 613: Animal Care and Control Services.
Entry is possible without formal academic qualifications, although some employers may ask for GCSEs/S grades. There is a variety of vocational qualifications available, including NVQs/SVQs in Animal Care at Levels 1 and 2, in Dog Grooming at Levels 2 and 3, and BTEC qualifications and apprenticeships relating to Horse Care.
  • Feeds, washes, grooms, trims and exercises animals;
  • Cleans animals’ quarters and renews bedding as necessary;
  • Houses, feeds, exercises, trains, grooms horses, dogs and other animals in preparation for entry to shows, races and other events;
  • Checks animals for illness, treats minor ailments or calls for vet if further treatment is required;
  • Meets prospective owners and advises on animal selection and animal care;
  • Patrols public areas to search for and capture stray or nuisance dogs, and transports captured animals to kennels.
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Employment status

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