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 WestBBC 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.
Outstanding Bravery Award: Stark and Paul Hopley
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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Top crime-fighting duo: Bart and Kelly WalkerDutch 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.
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.’
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Rising Star Award: Elvis and PC Colin NashA 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.
Elvis has ‘a phenomenal nose’, PC Nash said.
Give him the exercise he needs. All pets need regular exercise to stay fit and to release their energy. Without it, your pet will begin to act out. Young pets that do not get enough exercise are more likely to develop negative behavioral issues that lead many to give up their pet.
Lifetime Achievement Award: Nala and PC Sean FosterNala 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.
PC Foster said: ‘Tracking people – whether it was suspects on the run or missing people – was Nala’s forte. She always showed such dedication.’
INTERESTING FACT ABOUT YOUR PET: There are 49 domesticated rabbit breeds recognized by the American Rabbit Breeders Association.
Special Recognition Award: Darren SewellA 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.
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.’
INTERESTING FACT ABOUT YOUR PET: According to the American Pet Products Association (APPA), pet owners in the United States spent $60.28 billion on their furry friends in 2015. That number is expected to rise by more than $2 billion in 2016.
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