Heroic police dogs receive MEDALS for their outstanding service

The long paw of the law: Heroic police dogs receive MEDALS for their outstanding service in fighting crime

  • Awards organised by police dog welfare charity the Thin Blue Paw Foundation 
  • German shepherd Nala won lifetime achievement award for seven years service
  • Dutch Herder Bart and PC Kelly Walker won the top crime-fighting duo award 

Dogs are not only man’s best friend – many are also a police officer’s most trusted partner in crime-fighting.

But among these four-legged heroes of law enforcement, who often risk their lives to protect human colleagues, a few stand out.

And now those who have shown exceptional service have been recognised in the inaugural Thin Blue Paw awards.

Organised by police dog welfare charity the Thin Blue Paw Foundation and supported by Animal Friends pet insurance, there are five categories for dogs including ‘top crime-fighting duo’ and ‘rising star’ – and one for officers, too.

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

The winners, who are taking part in an award ceremony today at Knebworth House in Stevenage, Hertfordshire, are:

NALA AND PC SEAN FOSTER: Lifetime Achievement

Nala’s cool demeanour was vital during her seven years with Northamptonshire Police. 

In 2016 the German shepherd tracked down two suspects hiding under a caravan despite being struck in the face with a crowbar.

Dogs who have shown exceptional service have been recognised in the inaugural Thin Blue Paw awards. Above: Nala’s cool demeanour was vital during her seven years with Northamptonshire Police. She has won a lifetime achievement award

A month before her retirement in May, she caught and held a man following a car chase despite him trying to choke her.

Nala, nine, started with street work in 2014 before joining the force’s firearms support team.

Her handler PC Sean Foster said: ‘Tracking people – whether it was suspects on the run or missing people – was Nala’s forte. She always showed such dedication.’ 

She will spend her retirement at the home he shares with wife Paula and their children.

 He said: ‘You fall in love with your dog. She became a part of our family.’ 

Chief Constable Nick Adderley said: ‘Their contribution to the force has been immeasurable.’

BART AND PC KELLY WALKER: Top crime-fighting duo 

Bart showed his dedication when he continued tracking a knifeman despite cutting his paw badly.

The dog, a Dutch herder, and handler PC Kelly Walker, were called to a domestic violence incident in North Wales in May when a man assaulted his partner and threatened an off-duty police officer with a large knife before taking his victim with him.

BART AND PC KELLY WALKER: Bart showed his dedication when he continued tracking a knifeman despite cutting his paw badly. The dog, a Dutch herder, and handler PC Kelly Walker, were called to a domestic violence incident in North Wales in May when a man assaulted his partner and threatened an off-duty police officer with a large knife before taking his victim with him

PC Walker, 37, said: ‘While he [Bart] was tracking he put his paw through a pane of glass and sliced his toe in half. 

‘But he carried on searching and protecting me. He wouldn’t give up, despite his injury, which just goes to show how tenacious he is.’

Bart, seven, and PC Walker are part of the Cheshire and North Wales Police Dog Unit and have been together since 2017.

The officer, who is mother to Thomas, nine, and step-mother to Jayden, 19, said of Bart: ‘He’s so loyal, determined and fearless.’

STARK AND PC PAUL HOPLEY: Outstanding bravery 

Stark, four, was slashed with a machete more than 20 times but refused to let go of the suspect. 

The rookie police dog with the West Midlands force needed stitches for gashes to his face but was back at work within a month.

The dog and handler PC Paul Hopley had been called to an allotment in Handsworth, Birmingham, in December following reports of suspicious activity.

Stark, four, was slashed with a machete more than 20 times but refused to let go of the suspect. The dog and handler PC Paul Hopley had been called to an allotment in Handsworth, Birmingham, in December following reports of suspicious activity

Stark, a Belgian malinois and German shepherd cross, found someone lurking in the dark and gave chase. PC Hopley, 49, said the suspect ‘was raining blows’, adding: ‘He hit him well over 20 times. I thought he was going to kill him.

‘He didn’t yelp, he didn’t run back to me for protection. He was a young, inexperienced dog but he stayed on task.’

A teenager was later given a detention and training order for possessing a bladed weapon and causing unnecessary suffering to a service animal.

Eagle-eyed Calli’s a lifesaver

Calli has won the Lifesaver award for spotting a man trying to take his own life.

The German shepherd, who turns two in November, had only worked for Kent Police for seven months when in June she and PC Megan West were sent to find a man threatening to kill himself.

Calli has won the Lifesaver award for spotting a man trying to take his own life. The German shepherd, pictured, who turns two in November, had only worked for Kent Police for seven months when in June she and PC Megan West were sent to find a man threatening to kill himself

PC West, 28, of Stockbury, said: ‘It was dense woodland. Calli stopped and stood completely still, her eyes fixed into the distance off a path.

‘I couldn’t see a thing but she started barking furiously. I spotted a figure in the distance… but then realised he was suspended from a tree.’

The man survived and met them weeks later to give his thanks. PC West said: ‘I would never have found him that day if Calli hadn’t been with me. She’s my crewmate.’

Elvis the drug hound dog 

Elvis the Labrador’s role tackling county lines drug gangs helped him win the Rising Star award.

As well as detecting drugs and the weapons gang members often carry, the City of London Police dog, pictured, also has to protect the large banks and businesses in the Square Mile.

Elvis the Labrador’s role tackling county lines drug gangs helped him win the Rising Star award. His handler, PC Colin Nash, who has worked with the two-year-old since March last year, said: ‘In the City, people come in carrying drugs, so a lot of our work involves working at train stations and searching vehicles

His handler, PC Colin Nash, who has worked with the two-year-old since March last year, said: ‘In the City, people come in carrying drugs, so a lot of our work involves working at train stations and searching vehicles.

‘Elvis has a phenomenal nose. He has around an 85-90 per cent success rate of finding something when he indicates. He’s one of the best.’

PC Nash, 54, added: ‘Once he indicated and we searched a man and found 42 wraps of cocaine in his underpants.

‘Another time he led us to an older gentleman and we found half a kilo of cannabis in his bike panniers.’

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