HEROIC hounds from across the country put their skills to the test in a major training exercise.

The K9 session was hosted by Essex Fire and Rescue Service and saw 17 animals and their handlers from across the country - including as far north as Aberdeenshire in Scotland - head to Brightlingsea.

Once they had arrived, the pooches were taken by boat to Mersea Island and showed off their skills in searching for dummy missing people.

The idea of the sessions was to see how the dogs reacted to high speed sea travel which is a potentially stressful situation and still show off their honed search techniques.

The dogs showed no signs of being deterred, however – with the first team of four each taking just a few minutes to find two targets in the site, which measured several acres.

The event was organised by Urban Search and Rescue (Usar) dog handler Graham Currie said: “This was a fantastic opportunity for us to work together as emergency services and put our search and rescue dogs to the test.

“These animals are highly trained and are incredibly good at what they do, working in high pressure circumstances to be there for people who are trapped, in need of rescue or who are part of criminal investigations.”

Money was raised for the RNLI on the day.