Former rescue dogs recognised by national awards

Four extra special police dogs are celebrating after being recognised for their crime fighting achievements.

PD Boots and PD chips with police
12th October 2022

The Animal Welfare Scheme Awards, organised by us, 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 our rehoming centres across the UK, including Basildon and Harefield, where their potential as police dogs was spotted. We have 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 meets 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 our care by the team at Basildon. Whilst with us 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, firearms detection dog. Chip’s background details are unknown, but he ended up at our Basildon centre after being found as a stray. Since his potential for crime fighting was identified by our staff, 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 says:

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.

PC Luke Pitchford, Essex Police

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. 

Speaking of PD Jeff’s achievement:

Thank you to Dogs Trust for recognising the work that our dogs do. 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.

PC Sue Hillier, Jeff's Handler

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 our staff at Harefield while he was waiting for his forever home.

I’m really pleased that Luther has won this award. 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.

PD Luther’s handler, PC Philip Rosier, Hertfordshire Constabulary

It’s fantastic to be able to celebrate and recognise the success of service dogs working across the UK. It’s even more amazing that they all came from humble beginnings, spending time in rehoming centres before being identified as potential police dogs. We’ve been working with police forces across the UK for 20 years to ensure the welfare of police dogs is of the very highest standards, and to identify possible service dogs amongst the thousands of dogs we rehome every year. We never fail to be blown away by the stories of heroism and bravery shown by these crime fighters. Congratulations to Boots, Chip, Jeff and Luther and their handlers for their amazing achievements and thank you to all the police dogs and their handlers working across the UK.

Louise Crawford, Animal Welfare Scheme Coordinator

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