Hero dogs of London attacks at Borough Market (Image: PDSA)
Nineteen search dogs played a vital role in the aftermath of the onslaught on the capital, seeking suspects and detecting explosives to keep the public safe when terrorists struck at both London and Westminster Bridges as well as Borough Market two years ago. To mark their devotion to duty, seven dogs from the Metropolitan Police and British Transport Police are being decorated with the animal equivalent of the OBE on behalf of all the highly-trained animals involved in the aftermath. The honours from veterinary charity PDSA were announced today when the dogs and their brave handlers returned to the scene of their finest hours.
PDSA vet Rosamund Ford met the dogs and their handlers at Borough Market, where Islamic terrorists killed eight people and injured 48 in a vehicle-ramming and knife attack in June, 2017.
Ms Ford said: “The actions of these incredible dogs, and their handlers, was vital in keeping the public safe and allowing the emergency services to carry out their work. They performed their duties in a highly-charged and unfamiliar environment that no amount of training can fully prepare them for. PDSA is honoured to recognise their devotion to duty and service to society.”
The seven dogs chosen to represent the full contingent of dogs who played their part in the June attack and the one at Westminster three months earlier are Met dogs Kai, Delta and Dave, while BTP’s dogs Bruno, Marci, Jax and Bobby are also being decorated with the PDSA's Order of Merit.
An indication of the essential role police dogs and their handlers play in disasters such as terrorist incidents is highlighted by the strict safety protocols that declare emergency services withdraw until a scene is confirmed safe. Dogs and their handlers put their lives on the line to secure areas for casualties to be treated.
Police dog Marci and handler Neil Billany (Image: PDSA)
Police spaniel Kai sporting an Order of Merit (Image: PDSA)
At Westminster, where five people, including a police officer, were killed by a lone wolf terrorist, BTP Dogs Ollie, Oscar, Bruno and Scooby searched through the chaos for potential devices and were joined by Met Police dogs Kai and Bruce who searched the car used by the attacker.
The London Bridge and Borough Market incidents saw three terrorists use a van to knock down 10 pedestrians before spilling out onto the streets in suicide bomber vests to run amok in the nearby pubs and bars.
BTP General Purpose Dog Teams were called to the scene to clear the streets, with Jax, Marci, Johnny, Rocy, Tara and Bobby searching for more than 13 hours, virtually non-stop. Met Police Dogs Alfie, Dave, Poppy and Robson also carried out systematic searches of the area with novice dog Kai. Delta worked with his handler and a team of firearms officers to checked more than 30 buildings.
At one stage dog teams were searching for a suspect who was still missing, while Casper and Romeo searched the terrorists’ suicide vests for explosives.
Senior BTP and Met officers welcomed the dogs’ recognition.
BTP Inspector Paul Miles said: “I am immensely proud of our dogs and their handlers, and absolutely thrilled to see their bravery and resilience recognised through this very special award. They worked through physically and emotionally challenging conditions without second thought, courageously walking into danger and putting the public’s safety before their own.”
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The real Paw Patrol... Five of the hero dogs with their handlers (Image: PDSA)
Chief Inspector Graham Horwood from the Met’s Taskforce added: “Our Police Dogs and their handlers were required to work in the most challenging environments and we are delighted to hear that their extraordinary work has been recognised.
The dogs will receive their medals at a ceremony later in the year.
PDSA Director General, Jan McLoughlin, added: “During both attacks in 2017, the role played by all of the police dogs was crucial. They are trained to search transport, buildings and events, usually in a non-hostile environment. Yet on these occasions they worked in unimaginable conditions, remaining calm and responsive.”
The Met and BTP Dogs will take the total number of PDSA Order of Merit recipients to 27, including 17 dogs and 10 horses. The PDSA medal, instituted in 2014, recognises animals who display outstanding devotion to their owner or wider society, above and beyond normal companionship, and represents an exceptional example of the special relationship between animals and humans.
Brandy the Staffie came within a whisker of dying as vets battled for nearly five hours to remove the inch-thick piece of branch from her body.Astonishingly, the stick managed to miss major blood vessels when it pierced Brandy’s mouth, shot down her throat and finally lodged in her chest.Shocked owner Sophia-Jayne Lye rushed the badly wounded pet to the nearby PDSA Thamesmead Pet Hospital in south east London where surgeons began touch-and-go surgery.Today the owner described the horrific scenes when Brandy collapsed in the garden after swallowing the stick.The owner said: “I was inside when I heard my daughter screaming.