Brave service dogs awarded for saving lives and fighting crime

Two German Shepards and a labrador.  Police dogs from various forces all over the country have been celebrated in this year's Thin Blue Paw Awards in Hertfordshire.
The Thin Blue Paw Awards honoured five dogs and six handlers (Pictures: PA)

Dogs often get told they are being good for doing the most menial of things – sitting, staying, even the arduous task of eating a treat.

But one group of dogs have been completing jobs slightly more advanced – such as saving a man from suicide and taking on a machete-wielding attacker.

Five service dogs spent Tuesday getting the ultimate ‘good boy’ and ‘good girl’ – bravery prizes at the inaugural Thin Blue Paw Awards.

The event, held at a stately Tudor house in Hertfordshire, honoured five dogs and six handlers.

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Lifesaver award: Calli and Megan West

BBC News presenter Rich Preston gave the Lifesaver award to German shepherd Calli and PC Megan West, 28 – who prevented a man from taking his own life in June. The man called Kent Police to tell them what he was going to do and within 10 minutes, Calli had tracked him down using his scent. When the pair found the man, PC West administered first aid and the man has since made a full recovery.
Kent Police's PC Kelly West and her German Shepard. Police dogs from various forces all over the country have been celebrated in this year's Thin Blue Paw Awards in Hertfordshire.
PC Megan West and German Shepard Calli helped prevent a man from taking his own life (Picture: PA)

Outstanding Bravery Award: Stark and Paul Hopley

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German shepherd-Belgian malinois Stark, aged four, got the Outstanding Bravery Award with his handler PC Paul Hopley, 49. While responding to calls about a break-in at a Staffordshire allotment on December 14 last year, a suspect hit Stark with a machete at least 20 times. Still, the West Midlands Police dog managed to drag the attacker away while PC Hopley sprayed him with pepper spray. Stark needed emergency treatment, including stitches, for deep lacerations in his head before bravely returning to his duties four weeks later.

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West Midlands Police's PC Paul Hopely and German shepherd-Belgian malinois Stark. Police dogs from various forces all over the country have been celebrated in this year's Thin Blue Paw Awards in Hertfordshire.
PC Paul Hopely and Stark took on a man with a machete (Picture: PA)

Top crime-fighting duo: Bart and Kelly Walker

Dutch herder Bart and PC Kelly Walker, 37, were named the top crime-fighting duo after Bart kept on pursuing a domestic violence offender even after he ‘sliced his toe in half’. The pair, who have been together in the Cheshire and North Wales Police Dog Unit since 2017, was responding to a domestic violence call in North Wales in May. When they got to the scene, a man assaulted his partner, threatened a police officer and then ran off with his victim. Bart hurt himself when he stuck his paw through a glass pane while tracking the man.

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PC Walker said: ‘But (Bart) carried on searching and protecting me. He wouldn’t give up, despite his injury, which just goes to show how tenacious he is.’
The Cheshire and North Wales Police Dog Unit's PC Kelly Walker and her Dutch herder Bart. Police dogs from various forces all over the country have been celebrated in this year's Thin Blue Paw Awards in Hertfordshire.
PC Kelly Walker’s dog Bart continued pursuing a domestic violence offender even after the dog injured himseld (Picture: PA)

Rising Star Award: Elvis and PC Colin Nash

A two-year-old labrador, Elvis, and his handler, 54, were honoured for helping to get knives off of London’s streets, sniffing out drugs and identifying county lines victims. The City of London Police dog helped his handler bust a man with 42 wraps of cocaine in his underpants and an ‘older gentleman’ who had stashed half a kilo of cannabis in his bike panniers.

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Elvis has ‘a phenomenal nose’, PC Nash said.
City of London Police's PC Colin Nash and his labrador Elvis. Police dogs from various forces all over the country have been celebrated in this year's Thin Blue Paw Awards in Hertfordshire.
PC Colin Nash and Elvis helped keep London safe with Elvis’s ‘phenomenal nose’ (Picture: PA)

Lifetime Achievement Award: Nala and PC Sean Foster

Nala served with Northamptonshire Police for seven years. In that time, she became renowned for tackling burglars.

One time, in 2016, she tracked two suspects down while they were hiding underneath a caravan despite being attacked with a crowbar.

Another time, just before retiring in May, she caught a man involved in a car chase while he was trying to choke her.

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PC Foster said: ‘Tracking people – whether it was suspects on the run or missing people – was Nala’s forte. She always showed such dedication.’
Northamptonshire Police's PC Sean Foster and Nala. Police dogs from various forces all over the country have been celebrated in this year's Thin Blue Paw Awards in Hertfordshire.
PC Sean Foster said Nala ‘always showed such dedication’ when tackling burglars (Picture: PA)

Special Recognition Award: Darren Sewell

A Leicestershire Police officer, Darren Sewell, was celebrated for his commitment to being a dog handler. The cop, who has served for 22 years, looked after police dogs Jura and Gilly while helping train puppies for neighbouring forces.

He has continued to care his pack while fighting stage four lymphoma which is undergoing chemotherapy for.

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The Thin Blue Paw Foundation’s co-founder, Kieran Stanbridge, said: ‘There are approximately 1,500 serving police dogs working across the UK and, every day, they put their lives on the line alongside their handlers to help fight crime, save lives and keep the public safe.’

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