VIDEO: Staffordshire Police dog Visco named as country's top pooch
STAFFORDSHIRE police dog Visco has been crowned the best in the country after making 142 arrests in 2012.
The four-year-old German shepherd and his handler PC Matt Holding have been commended for their exceptional record.
The pair, who are based at Staffordshire Police's HQ in Stafford, have been working together since 2009.
Visco's past achievements include detaining an offender who attacked a female police officer during an English Defence League march, and finding a missing girl who had wandered off from the scene of a car crash.
PC Holding said: "I have an exceptional bond with Visco.
"We depend on each other. We know each other's strengths and weaknesses and we know our limits.
"He can be frustrating sometimes. A dog's mental capacity is a bit like that of an 18-month-old baby, it constantly wants attention. He just wants to work all the time, but he is one of the family."
PC Holding was originally assigned to another dog when he joined the unit in 2008, but the animal was sent to the military because of behavioural problems.
He and Visco trained together for three months and hold an advanced licence, which judges the pair on the dog's obedience and the control the handler has over the dog.
One of their most testing assignments was policing the English Defence League march in Hanley in 2009.
PC Holding said: "We were called to attend an English Defence League march where more than 100 members were involved.
"We were being attacked from the front and back as well as trying to protect some of the officers when a male protester struck a female officer on the back of the head.
"I monitored him until I saw him get out of hand again. Then I deployed Visco to detain him.
"Visco was kicked and punched in the process but luckily he wasn't injured seriously and was able to detain the offender who was then arrested and convicted for violent disorder.
"I think he was given two-and-a-half years in the end and the judge commended mine and Visco's bravery.
"I think that has been the biggest demand on the pair of us just because of the sheer volatility of the people involved."
Last month, Visco tracked down a missing girl. PC Holding said: "She was in a serious car crash and sustained injuries but managed to get out and wander off before we could get there. Visco was able to track her and we got her back safe. Without the dog, it would have taken a lot longer.
"It can take a dog just 30 minutes to pick up a track but obviously it depends on the circumstances. I find tracking the most rewarding because it heavily relies on you as a team."