Police dog handlers to receive free dog first aid training | TeamDogs
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Police dog handlers to receive free dog first aid training

It could mean the difference between life and death for our forces’ courageous dogs

Danielle Elton

Posted 5 months ago

Nearly 1,500 police dogs are working hard to keep us safe - they’re all heroes.

Offering real support to their colleagues in blue, their work includes apprehending suspects, finding vital evidence and even detecting explosives.

Forming close bonds with their handlers, it’s no surprise that they will also do what they can to protect their human and help keep them safe, but unfortunately, this can result in them being injured in the line of duty.

This was the case for now-retired police dog Axle.

Axle was called in to help apprehend a man in Derbyshire who was armed with a hammer and knife. 

The man had smashed the windows of a police vehicle and tried to assault the officer inside. The suspect then ran from the area while still in possession of the knife, triggering a search that involved firearms officers and the police helicopter.

The heroic police dog caught up with the suspect in the woodland and cornered him. During the incident, Axle was stabbed three times, before the man was confronted by armed police and arrested. 

Axle very nearly lost his life.

He’s one of many heroes to have risked their lives protecting their communities.

That’s why a new initiative offering free dog first aid training to handlers has been launched - to provide greater support to the dogs in those critical moments of need.

Thanks to a coalition of animal welfare advocates, free first aid training and kits are to be issued to their handlers that could one day mean the difference between life and death for these courageous dogs.

Animal Friends Insurance is leading an initiative to bring together Dog First Aid Training experts, police dog charity the Thin Blue Paw Foundation, and police forces up and down the country to ensure that the UK’s brave police dogs can receive immediate care should they get injured in the line of duty and have a better chance of recovery.

Dog First Aid Training will provide a free bespoke virtual course for police dog handlers that will teach them how to immediately treat blunt force trauma injuries, burns and identify the signs of shock. 

Treatment for the most serious conditions such as fractures, severe sprains and wounds will also be taught in the course.

Dani Hickman, Operations Manager at Dog First Aid, said: “I’ve no doubt this initiative will save the lives of many brave police dogs all over the country. 

“Every day these dogs face the threat of being assaulted or injured in the line of duty. Now police handlers on the scene will be better equipped to deal with injuries sustained by their loyal companions.”

Thin Blue Paw Foundation trustee, Kieran Stanbridge, said: “Police dogs have physically demanding jobs, putting themselves in hazardous and potentially harmful situations every single day. 

“We estimate around 250 police dogs are injured in the line of duty every year; and yet most handlers are not equipped with a personal issue dog first aid kit and in some cases have limited training in emergency dog first aid. 

“Veterinary care is, of course, imperative for any police dog who may become ill or hurt. But being able to efficiently risk assess a scene and administer dog first aid could be life-saving in an emergency.”

The initiative has been welcomed by officers.

Chief Constable of Sussex Police, Jo Shiner, said: “I am delighted to work alongside the Thin Blue Paw foundation, a charity close to my heart. 

“Police dogs are an integral part of our policing family, often playing an important role in helping us to catch criminals and protect our communities, so they must be protected as one of our own. 

“As a proud owner of an adorable but mischievous rescue dog myself, I look forward to undertaking this Dog First Aid course and sharing learning across Sussex.”

The dog first aid course will be available for active police dog handlers to book from April, with the first courses commencing in June.

Police dog handlers attending the course will also be provided, free of charge, with a tailor-made dog first aid kit by the Thin Blue Paw Foundation, funded by a £10,000 donation by Animal Friends. 

The kits can be worn on uniforms and could play a vital role in treating injuries suffered by brave dogs.

Police dog handlers attending will also receive a CPD-accredited dog first aid course certificate.

All serving police dog handlers can sign up for the free course here.

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