POLICE dogs working for West Mercia Police will be better-protected in the line of duty after the force introduced stab-proof vests for them, writes Shnae Harrison.
The four-legged crime fighters aid officers by sniffing out people, drugs, cash and firearms and by detaining suspects and protecting officers.
The newly supplied vests were brought into necessary action after a West Mercia Police dog PD Canto was injured back in 2017.
The attack happened in a property in Bridgnorth after reports of a man with a knife.
When PD Canto arrived at the scene with his Handler PC Emma Worrell, the suspect attacked him by stabbing him in the chest with a kitchen knife.
Luckily, PD Canto made it out alive and has continued to keep crime off the streets after a full recovery.
Chief Constable Pippa Mills, 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.”
An incident that occurred in 2016 involving a knife attack in Stevenage, that left a police dog with a stab wound to the head and chest, also encourage the Animal Welfare (Service Animals) Bill.
Measures put in place to protect dogs in the emergency services via the Animal Welfare Bill, also known as Finns Law, make it harder for those who harm service dogs to claim it was an act of self-defence.