Leicestershire launches scheme to support retiring police dogs
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Leicestershire Police has today (17 May) launched a scheme to support the ongoing care of retired police dogs.
The Police Dog Retirement Scheme (PDRS) has been set up to recognise the vital contribution made by the force’s furry four-legged friends in protecting the communities of Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland.
From helping to locate missing people and tracking offenders, to finding vital evidence such as drugs, cash, explosives, bodily fluids and digital media devices – these crime-fighting canines work alongside police officers, often protecting their handlers from potentially dangerous situations.
When most police dogs retire from service they continue to live with their handler, who is responsible for their continued care and the associated costs.
With the launch of the PDRS, £500 will now be paid out when a police dog comes to the end of its service – to help ensure they continue to have a comfortable and relaxing retirement.
For each dog, £150 will be given by Leicestershire Police Federation and the remainder will be paid out by the force.
This money will be given to whoever takes on a retired dog – police officer, staff, or in some cases a member of the public.
Each dog will also be awarded a certificate of service, which is given to all police personnel on retirement, and a commemorative engraved dog lead.
Temporary Inspector Chris Day, who is part of the force’s Tactical Dogs and Firearms Unit, has been instrumental in helping to set up the scheme.
He said: “Police dogs play such a vital role in the work we do in protecting and serving the people of Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland.
“As a force we wanted to set up a scheme which formally recognises their contribution but also financially supports the family who take care of our retired dogs. Some of our dogs retire with illness or injury and will require regular medication or treatment, others will simply retire as they get older.
“Whichever it is, the money will go some way in helping to pay for the ongoing cost of taking care of them - so they can have the retirement they deserve.”
Attending today’s launch were four retired police dogs - Bo, Gilly, Mabon and Grace and their handlers. As well as specialist civilian dog handler Rupert Smallshaw, who took care of retired police dog Tommy when he finished his service in 2017 until he passed away in October 2021.
In total the five dogs served 34 years in policing.
As the most recent to retire, Bo and his hander PC Karen Daybell were the first to be awarded the £500 as part of the scheme. Bo officially retires tomorrow (18 May) but has been away from operational duties for the last few months.
Retired Police Dog Bo and PC Karen Daybell
The event was also attended by retired officer Dave Wardell and his wife Gemma, trustees of the Thin Blue Paw Foundation – a national charity which helps protect, celebrate and rehabilitate serving and retired police dogs.
The pair were the driving force behind the passing of Finn’s Law in 2019 – an amendment to the Animal Welfare Act 2006 which prevents those who harm service animals to claim they were acting in self-defence.
The law is named after police dog Finn who was stabbed while pursuing a suspect with his handler Dave when they were serving as part of the Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire Dog Unit.
Speaking after the event, Gemma Wardell said: “Police dogs dedicate years of their lives looking after us whether they’re fighting crime, catching criminals or keeping the public safe. It’s only right that when they retire, we look after them.
“That’s why we launched the Thin Blue Paw Foundation; a national welfare charity that supports both working and retired police dogs. And we’re absolutely thrilled that Leicestershire Police is now launching its own retirement scheme to support their canine heroes when they hang up their collars.”
Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland Police and Crime Commissioner Rupert Matthews also attended today to show his support for the scheme.
He said: “Happily, many of our four-legged crime fighters are fit and healthy when they retire but some need medical treatment for injury or illness resulting from their days on the job, tackling crime”.
“These dogs provide a sterling service over the years to protect the public so I am delighted to approve a scheme that will help with their care when they retire. They are an important part of the team.”