Police dogs who supported emergency services during the London terror attacks are being honoured for the heroic actions by the PDSA.
Seven Police Dogs from the Metropolitan police (MET) and British Transport police (BTP) will be awarded the PDSA Order of Merit – the animal equivalent of the OBE – at a ceremony this year.
The dogs have been chosen to represent the 19 Police Dogs who served during the 2017 attacks at Westminster Bridge, London Bridge and Borough Market.
This week, the dogs and their handlers were joined by PDSA vet, Rosamund Ford, at the site of one attack, to announce the forthcoming award.
Ms Ford said: “The actions of these incredible dogs – and their handlers – was vital in keeping the public safe and allowing the emergency services to carry out their work. They performed their duties in a highly-charged and unfamiliar environment that no amount of training can fully prepare them for. PDSA is honoured to recognise their devotion to duty and service to society.”
Westminster Bridge – Wednesday 22 March 2017
In March 2017, Central London was hit by a terrorist attack that, left five people dead, including a police officer and 29 injured.
In the moments following the attack, the BTP Explosive Search Dog Section and the Met Police Explosive Detection Dog Team were rushed to the scene to assess the situation and ensure public safety.
BTP Dogs Ollie, Oscar Bruno and Scooby searched through the chaos for potential devises that could cause further harm to the bridge itself and around Parliament Square.
They were joined at the scene by Met Police Dogs Kai and Bruce and their handlers. They searched the car that had crashed into the wall at the Palace of Westminster, as a precautionary measure in case it contained a bomb.
Once safe, Helicopter Emergency Medical Services landed in Parliament Square to help injured victims.
London Bridge/Borough Market – Saturday 3 June 2017
In June 2017, a white van containing three attackers drove into 10 pedestrians on London Bridge, seriously injuring eight and killing two. The attackers alighted from the van armed with knives and ran through Borough Market, continuing their assaults on innocent members of the public.
BTP General Purpose Dog Teams were called to the scene to clear the streets, buildings and public areas alongside firearms officers. Police Dogs Jax, Marci, Johnny, Rocy, Tara and Bobby searched amid a volatile situation for over 13 hours, virtually non-stop.
Police Dogs Tara, Rocy and Bobby arrived on scene and they worked tirelessly, never faltering in their duty. Met Police Dogs Alfie, Dave, Poppy and Robson were also deployed to undertake a systematic search of the area.
Together with Police Dog Kai (who qualified November 2016 and was relatively inexperienced) they searched a dozen buildings.
Police Dog Delta worked with his handler and a team of Firearms Officers to search over 30 buildings. His skills, calibre and professionalism saved vital time. At Borough Market, the Met Dog Teams joined Armed Officers to search for a suspect who was still unaccounted for, despite the unknown risk level to themselves and their dogs.
Commenting on the awards, PDSA Director General, Jan McLoughlin, said: “During both attacks in 2017, the role played by all of the Police Dogs was crucial. They are trained to search transport, buildings and events, usually in a non-hostile environment. Yet on these occasions they worked in unimaginable conditions, remaining calm and responsive.
“Their devotion and service to society was incredible, especially under such distressing circumstances, and we will never forget those who lost their lives in these appalling attacks. Recognising the actions of these devoted dogs with our prestigious PDSA Order of merit will be an honour.”
British Transport Police Inspector, Paul Miles, said: “I am immensely proud of our dogs and their handlers, and absolutely thrilled to see their bravery and resilience recognised through this very special award. They worked through physically and emotionally challenging conditions without second thought, courageously walking into danger and putting the public’s safety before their own.
“While today is a day of celebration, the horror of 2017 will never leave us, and our thoughts will always remain with those lost their lives and were injured in these terrible incidents.”
The MET and BTP Dogs will take the total number of PDSA Order of Merit recipients to 27, including 17 dogs and 10 horses. The PDSA Medal, which was instituted in 2014 recognises animals who display outstanding devotion to their owner or wider society, above and beyond normal companionship – and represents an exceptional example of the special relationship between animals and humans.
For more information about the previous recipients, visit www.pdsa.org.uk/pdsaorderofmerit.