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Former rescue dogs recognised by national awards

The Animal Welfare Scheme Awards celebrate the work and success of service dogs that started their careers as stray or rescue dogs.

Four police dogs that started their careers as rescues have been recognised for their crime-fighting achievements at national awards organised by the Dogs Trust.

PD Boots, PD Chip, PD Jeff and PD Luther each won a prize at the Animal Welfare Scheme Awards to reflect their contribution to the forces they serve. 

The first of the winners, PD Boots, received the All-Round Achiever Award for his work with Essex Police. Boots, a six-year-old Labrador Collie cross, was a once a stray before being partnered with PC Mark Rickwood.

Together, the pair have recovered drugs with a street value of more than £168,000, while Boots has also found 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.

PD Chip received the Economic Crime Buster Award due to successes enjoyed during his time as a cash, drugs, and firearms detection dog.

Former stray Chip is also with Essex Police. He and handler PC Luke Pitchford 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.

The Community Superstar Award was given to Dorset Police Dog Jeff for his work keeping the public safe across the UK.

Once considered too much for his owners to handle, Jeff's quickly-apparent potential saw him selected for an explosive detection course which he passed with flying colours.

Since joining the team in Dorset, he and handler PC Sue Hillier have been deployed across the UK for large events including the G7 summit in Cornwall where 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 was tasked with searching for explosives ahead of  the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, and supported the force in London ahead of the Queen's funeral.

PD Luther was given the Award for Rescue Hero due to his tracking skills which led to the capture of an armed criminal who was at large following a robbery, assault and theft.

Luther is part of the team at Hertfordshire Constabulary where he works with handler PC Philip Rosier. 

The Animal Welfare Scheme Coordinator at the charity, Louise Crawford, said: “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.”

This year marks two decades 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.

The scheme, to which 32 police forces in the UK are signed up, was created following a National Police Chiefs' Council review carried out after the death of Police Dog Acer in 1997.

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