Four extra special police dogs are celebrating after being recognised for their crime fighting achievements by the UK’s largest dog welfare charity, Dogs Trust.
The Animal Welfare Scheme Awards celebrates the work and success of some special service dogs working within the UK’s emergency services.
What makes the success of these dogs even more incredible is that they all started their careers as stray or rescue dogs, spending time at rehoming centres across the UK, including Dogs Trust Basildon and Dogs Trust Harefield, where their potential as police dogs was spotted.
Dogs Trust has rehomed approximately 70 dogs in the last few years with police forces across the UK, where they have gone on to work as successful service dogs.
This year marks 20 years since the Animal Welfare Visitors Scheme was launched, designed to ensure that the training, housing, and transport of police dogs meet high animal welfare standards. There are currently 32 police forces across the UK signed up to the scheme, and the charity is encouraging all police dog sections, the military, and other emergency services in the UK to adopt the scheme.
Police Dog Boots, a six-year-old Labrador Collie cross from Essex Police, received the All-Round Achiever Award. Boots was a stray before being taken into care by the team at Dogs Trust Basildon. Whilst with Dog Trust, he was identified as a potential Police Dog and was partnered with PC Mark Rickwood.
Boots and PC Rickwood were recognised for being a very active and successful team. They have recovered drugs with a street value of more than £168,000, and Boots also puts his amazing nose to the test to find cash being laundered in and out of the country while working at Stansted Airport. He has recovered hundreds of thousands of pounds in cash, including a seizure of over £200,000.
Police Dog Chip received the Economic Crime Buster Award thanks to his success whilst being deployed as a cash, drugs, and firearms detection dog. Chip’s background details are unknown, but he ended up at Dogs Trust Basildon after being found as a stray. Since his potential for crime fighting was identified by staff at Dogs Trust, he and handler PC Luke Pitchford from Essex Police have worked together on many operations, resulting in the discovery of large quantities of drugs, cash and firearms, including £750,000 worth of cocaine and over a million pounds worth of drugs and cash.
Speaking about Chip and Boots awards, PC Luke Pitchford from the Dog Section of Essex Police said, “We are extremely grateful that the hard work of these two very special police dogs has been recognised. The fact that they have come from rescues makes their achievement all that more amazing.”
The Community Superstar Award was given to Police Dog Jeff for his work keeping the public safe across the UK. Jeff arrived at Margaret Green Animal Rescue after he become too much for his owners to handle. Staff identified his potential and he was selected for an explosive detection course which he passed with flying colours.
Since joining the team at Dorset Police, he and handler PC Sue Hillier have been deployed across the UK for large events. This included all of the pre-search and seal operation for G7 in Cornwall and G7 itself whereby he was responsible for searching The Eden Project prior to the arrival of the Royal family. He also searched President Biden’s hotel, the hanger where they kept Marine One and also the private toilets before President Biden went to use the facilities.
More recently, he completed a deployment to Birmingham where he was searching for explosives ahead of the start of the Commonwealth Games.
“Thank you to Dogs Trust for recognising the work that our dogs do,” said his handler PC Sue Hillier. “In Dorset, we prefer to rehome rather than buy our police dogs, and Jeff is a great example of a dog that has gone on to do great things since being rehomed as a police dog.
“In the two short years since he qualified, he has been to Cornwall, Scotland, Birmingham, and just a week after receiving this award he was supporting us with our work in London ahead of the funeral of Her Majesty The Queen.”
The Award for Rescue Hero was given to Police Dog Luther due to his amazing tracking skills, which he put into practice locating a dangerous criminal who was at large with a knife following a robbery, assault and theft. Luther is part of the team at Hertfordshire Constabulary, which he joined after his potential was spotted by staff at Dogs Trust Harefield while he was waiting for his forever home.
“I’m really pleased that Luther has won this award,” said PD Luther’s handler, PC Philip Rosier. “It’s hard to imagine that he was not wanted by someone at any stage of his life. I love working alongside PD Luther, he is a fantastic companion, and we learn from each other every day. He continues to work hard to locate and catch suspects. He also appeared on the national police recruitment campaign which aired early this year.”
Following the death of police dog Acerin 1997, the National Police Chief’s Council (formerly known as the Association of Chief Police Officers) lead by the Chief Constable of Lancashire Police, Pauline Clare, embarked upon a thorough review of police dog training during which Dogs Trust were consulted. As a result of this review, a strategy was developed to ensure that training methods are humane, ethical and transparent. It also concluded that the training and welfare of dogs engaged in police work must be open and be seen to be open. To this end, the Animal Welfare Independent Visitors Scheme was introduced, and all police forces were encouraged to adopt this scheme for their working dogs. Currently 32 forces across the UK and Northern Island have a welfare scheme for their working dogs.