The first ever nationwide campaign to provide free dog first aid support to the UK’s police forces launches today, offering Britain’s nearly 1,500 police dogs greater support 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.
The initiative will 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 is to 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.
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 the brave dogs.
Retired police dog Axle is just one of many heroes to have risked their lives protecting their communities.
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.
Axle caught up with the suspect in 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.
Patricia Gardiner, Chief Marketing Officer, Animal Friends, said: “We’re proud to lead this initiative, offering police dog handlers across the UK a greater level of skill and confidence that one day could help save the life of their courageous canine partner.
“These animals work hard to protect our communities every day and it’s our hope that by bringing together this coalition of experts we can give something meaningful back.
“The uniquely tailored dog first aid training and bespoke kits will ensure that handlers can provide immediate treatment in the event that the worst happens and their dog has the best possible chance of recovery.
“April is Pet First Aid Awareness Month, but sadly many people are oblivious to dog first aid and don’t know how to provide it to their dog should they need to.
“I’d encourage everyone, not just police dog handlers, to learn more about dog first aid as soon as possible.”
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.
“There are nine million dogs in the UK and the majority will require First Aid at least once in their life. As owners and carers we never know when an accident may happen and they will need our help.
“Since 2013 we have trained thousands of people to provide the emergency care their dogs need before getting to a vet. We are so proud that in many cases this has saved the dog’s life.”
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.”
Chief Constable of Surrey Police, Gavin Stephens, said: “These dog first aid courses, open to all 47 of our handlers, will be a valuable addition to the training programme led by Surrey Police and Sussex Police Operational Dog Unit and Dog Training School.
“We’re incredibly proud of the work of our police dogs and their handlers, and we’re grateful to Animal Friends, Dog First Aid Training and the Thin Blue Paw Foundation for giving our handlers this opportunity to continue developing their skills and be prepared if their dog needs medical help.”
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 it is important that they are 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.”
Chief Constable of Derbyshire Police, Rachel Swann, said “I am really pleased to support this initiative.
“Last year we ran our own Dog First Aid Courses for our handlers as we understand the benefit this can bring, not just to our own dogs as they serve on the frontline but to other dogs our handlers deal with in the course of their duty.
“Our police dogs are an important part of our workforce, and this helps us to look after them, should they get injured whilst undertaking their duty.
“I’d encourage all police dog handlers everywhere to sign up to this free course.”
The dogs 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 will receive a CPD-accredited dog first aid course certificate.
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