Hero Police Dog receives PDSA national award

A hero Police Dog (PD) is being honoured by PDSA after he sustained life-threatening injuries whilst on duty with Derbyshire Police.

PD Axle, a seven-year old German Shepherd, attended a presentation in his honour at Derbyshire Police Headquarters in Ripley with his handler, PC Dean Allen.

PD Axle and PC Allen were called to help apprehend a man who was armed with a hammer and knife. Matthew Stretch had smashed the windows of a police vehicle and tried to assault the office inside.

Stretch then ran from the area while still in possession of the knife, triggering a search that involved firearms officers and the police helicopter.

He was eventually cornered in woodland by PD Axle and during the incident, Stretch stabbed Axle three times before he was quickly confronted by armed police. After threatening another office with the knife, he was subdued with a taser and arrested.

PC Allen said: “It was only when we had detained the suspect that we were actually able to see Axel’s stab wounds. The biggest concern was the position of the stab wounds, you don’t know how deep they are, and they were very close to the spine. With the blood vessels running down the spine in German Shepherds it can be life threatening.”

PD Axle was rushed to a local vet where he received emergency treatment for wounds to his neck and body. He returned home following an operation and after a well-earned spell of recuperation, re-joined PC Allen at work.

PDSA Area Veterinary Manager Robert Haselgrove said: “The PDSA Commendation recognises the outstanding devotion that animals display and celebrates the amazing ways they enrich our lives. PDS Axle showed remarkable bravery in tackling an armed criminal that night.

“His story really highlights the vital role that Police Dog teams play and demonstrates the perils they can face. I’m honoured to present him with his PDSA Commendation, which celebrates his vital contribution to Derbyshire Police.”

Discussing PD Axel’s award, PC Allen said: “I couldn’t be prouder of Axle. He is an exceptional Police Dog who has displayed great courage and skill throughout his six years of service with Derbyshire Police. I was worried he wouldn’t make it after that night, so to see him not only make a full recovery but return to duty as well shows how special he is. It is a real honour to see hm receive this award.”

Axel, PC Allen and other officers attending the incident have since been commended, in November 2018, for outstanding bravery by The Chief Constable of Derby Constabularly – an event broadcast on BBC and ITV television news.

In June 2019, new legislation was passed giving protection to service dogs such as PD Axel. ‘Finn’s Law’ is named after Police Dog Finn, who was awarded the PDSA Gold Medal in 2018 after he was stabbed whilst pursuing a suspect with his handler PC David Wardell.