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Charity steps in to cover former handler's £1,500 vet bill

The plight of police dogs has been raised after a charity paid a £1,500 vet bill.

The Thin Blue Paw Foundation stepped in to pay the costs of emergency treatment for a former Humberside sniffer dog.

Springer spaniel Bailey, 10, was diagnosed with Cushings disease - which is caused by a hormonal imbalance – after being found by his former handler collapsed in his kennel.

Bailey was kept in care for six days and needed 9l of fluid to rehydrate him – but the bill at the end was £1,500.

Police dogs receive no financial assistance from the force they served with when they retire, and they are difficult to insure as the pet insurance industry believes their service will trigger lifelong health conditions. 

Labour MP Holly Lynch has lobbied the Home Office, Police Chiefs and the insurance industry to find a way forward.

But until then, that leaves handlers with the only option of relying on charity – and the kindness of public donations. 

And that’s despite the contribution to public service that in Bailey’s case includes helping find millions of pounds worth of drugs.

The spaniel joined Humberside at 14-months-old and was partnered with PC Chris Wright in 2015 when his previous handler retired. 

When PC Wright moved to the force’s intelligence department, the decision was taken to retire Bailey and his general purpose dog, a German Shepherd called Pedro.

He decided to adopt them both as pets; but this came with the responsibility of covering the costs of two ageing former police dogs who’d led long and strenuous working lives. 

“I couldn’t insure either of the dogs but I was prepared to take care of them to the best of my ability,” PC Wright said.  

Fortunately, he registered both dogs with the Thin Blue Paw Foundation, the welfare charity which supports more than 300 ex-police dogs across the UK. The charity will also support Bailey’s long-term treatment for the condition.

Thin Blue Paw trustee Dave Wardell said: “Adopters of retired police dogs not only have to make difficult decisions with the best interests of their pet in mind, but also with their finances in mind."  

He added: “It’s almost impossible to insure retired police dogs due to the strenuous working lives they’ve led.  These dogs are unsung heroes who have dedicated their lives to fighting crime, bringing criminals to justice, and keeping the public safe. The least they, and their owners, deserve is a happy and healthy retirement.” 

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