Police dogs given protective vests after thug stabbed dog in chest
Police dogs in the West Mercia police force area have been issued protective vests after a dog was stabbed in the chest.
The force says that both general-purpose and firearms police dogs (PDs) will wear the special clothing now.
This comes after the force's own PD Canto was stabbed in the chest with a kitchen knife in 2017 when police were called to a property in Bridgnorth to reports of a man with a knife.
Fortunately, PD Canto made a full recovery from his injuries and returned to work, even receiving a medal from the animal charity PDSA for his bravery.
His handler, PC Emma Worrall has welcomed the new vests, saying: “If at the time Canto was equipped with one of these vests it could have helped protect him from the weapon and saved him from the pain and injury it inflicted on him.
“Protecting our force’s police dogs means a lot to myself, as I have witnessed first-hand my own dog being seriously injured in the line of duty so I welcome this move and can’t wait for them to be wearing them when responding to incidents.”
Chief Constable Pippa Mills, who is also the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) lead for police dogs, said: “As the NPCC lead for police dogs I am pleased that West Mercia is one of the first forces in the UK to fully equip its police dogs with protective vests.
“Our dogs carry out a vital role in supporting frontline policing and are an important part of our policing family. They are often the first to run towards a potential threat and can be at risk of being harmed.
"Sadly, we have experienced how it can affect the force when a dog is injured during the line of duty and it means a lot that we are able to equip our dogs with these protective vests to help prevent them from harm.
“Dog welfare is one of my top priorities as NPCC lead for police dogs and I want to ensure that we continue to protect our animals, as much as we protect our officers.”
This also comes after the Animal Welfare (Service Animals) Bill was introduced in 2019 after a police dog suffered a stab wound to his chest and head, protecting his handler from a man who was carrying a knife during a 2016 robbery in Stevenage.
The bill, also known as Finn’s Law, makes it harder for people who harm service animals to claim it was an act of self-defence, rather than be treated as criminal damage.