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Not to be sniffed at: Aberdeen’s Bon Accord Baths to be used as training centre for police dogs

PD Ice of the Aberdeen Police Dog Unit beside the empty pool at Bon Accord Baths.
PD Ice of the Aberdeen Police Dog Unit beside the empty pool at Bon Accord Baths.

A former Aberdeen leisure centre at the heart of a major preservation project will soon take an unexpected role as a training academy for Scotland’s police dogs.

Bon Accord Baths has had the canine cops through its doors several times in the past year following a number of break-ins and vandalisms.

Their handlers have been so impressed with their response to the setting that they have asked campaign group Bon Accord Heritage for permission to use the site for training.

The art deco swimming pool offers unusual acoustics, new smells and a variety of surfaces for paws to practice on, while track and search exercises can be organised in the vast main hall.

PD Beans visits the Bon Accord Baths

We recently had a visit from the Police Scotland Dog Unit – thankfully not to report a break in. The Unit will be using the Bon Accord Baths for training exercises for the dogs given its unique size, smells and sounds. 🐢 Police Dog (PD) Beans had a lot of fun getting to know the building a little better!

Posted by Save Bon Accord Baths on Wednesday, 14 April 2021

Pool pooches

Sergeant Dave MacKinnon, from Aberdeen’s dog unit said: “The venue is one of a number that we use to get the dogs used to different surroundings, sounds and smells as this is an important part of their training.

“The variety of training options that the Bon Accord Baths provide make it a really useful venue for us to be able to train the police dogs in and we are extremely grateful to Bon Accord Heritage for providing us with the opportunity to train here.”

PC Dave MacKinnon of Aberdeen’s dog unit. Picture by Kami Thomson

In August last year, Aberdeen City Council gave the charity group a licence to occupy at the leisure centre, which closed in March 2008.

Bon Accord Heritage has since held an open day and launched a Β£150,000 fundraising effort to get the building wind and watertight.

However, their campaign has been beset by a number of incidents of people smashing windows, trespassing and scrawling graffiti over the walls of the historic main hall.

Police dogs like PD Beans will benefit from training at the former swimming pool.

Steven Cooper, secretary for Bon Accord Heritage said: “We have unfortunately had to call upon the police to help with a number of break-ins to the building in the past.

“However, with improved security measures now in place we are delighted to be in a position to now help Police Scotland.

“It’s great to be able to support the local community with such a unique request – PD Beans, PD Ice and their furry team are welcome any time.”