Twenty four retired police dogs from Wiltshire, Avon and Somerset and Gloucestershire are to get financial support thanks to a new trust called WAGs.

The name has nothing to do with footballers’ wives and girlfriends. The acronym comes from the initial letters of the three forces involved.

Police dogs often retire with injuries they have suffered during their working lives.

Most of the dogs are difficult to insure because of the specialised training they have received.

So the full cost of any veterinary treatment has had to be met by their handler or new adopted owner.

But now WAGs, an independent, not-for-profit trust, will provide financial support for the retired police dogs from the three force areas if they need emergency care. It will not meet everyday needs such as food or annual boosters.

The forces do not offer continuing support to retired dogs but the chief constables and police and crime commissioners (PCCs) from Wiltshire, Avon and Somerset and Gloucestershire have each agreed to donate £500.

Trustees are drawn from the three forces which have combined their dog handling teams.

PC Marie Poole, a Wiltshire Police dog handler, is one of the WAGS trustees.

She said: “The 24 retired dogs have contributed to detecting crime in Wiltshire, Avon and Somerset and Gloucestershire, often in very dangerous situations.

“WAGs hopes to provide financial support should any of these retired dogs, and any additional retired police dogs, need it.

Wiltshire Police dog handler Neil Sampson and his police dog Anya retired earlier this year. Neil kindly donated his retirement collection to pay for the creation and hosting of the WAGs website.

“We are very grateful to the chief constables and PCCs for the recent contribution of £1,500.

“Now we hope that members of the public, recognising the service that the dogs have given, will make donations to help care for them in their retirement.”

Kieran Kilgallen, chief executive of the OPCC, said: “Police dogs make a big contribution to the work of Wiltshire Police. It would be insensitive not to continue to support them once they have ceased their operational duties.

“The commissioner is fully aware of the important service which these dogs perform in their working lives and is delighted to help WAGS get off the ground.”

Various fundraising events are planned and you will see WAGs at summer events. They are also keen to hear from any local businesses who may be interested in providing sponsorship for events.

To find out more, or make a donation, please visit the WAGs website or “like” the WAGs retired police dogs facebook page.