Thin Blue Paw charity saves life of retired police dog ‘on brink of death’

A dog welfare charity that supports retired police dogs has paid for life-saving emergency treatment for a former sniffer dog.  

Springer spaniel Bailey, 10, spent more than eight years working as a cash, drugs and weapons detection dog with Humberside Police. The enthusiastic and dedicated spaniel joined the force at 14-months-old and was partnered with PC Chris Wright in 2015 when his previous handler retired. 

Chris, who now works in the police intelligence department, said: “I’d worked in the dog section for 20 years and had many dogs but Bailey was brilliant. He never let me down. Bailey is a typical springer; he’s mad! He never runs out of energy, never stops looking or searching, and that makes him great at his job. Really, he does it all for the love of his tennis ball!” 

He had many successful searches and finds including helping the police uncover a large drug-dealing ring when he located 1.5kg of cocaine in a shop near Hull.  

“Bailey worked with me for six years until I was forced to leave the section due to health problems,” Chris said. “The unit decided that Bailey and my general purpose dog, a German Shepherd called Pedro, could retire with me.” 

Chris didn’t want to be parted from his two partners and decided to adopt them both as pets; but this came with the responsibility of covering the costs of two ageing former police dogs who’d led long and strenuous working lives. 

Chris said: “I couldn’t insure either of the dogs but I was prepared to take care of them to the best of my ability. When a former colleague told me about the Thin Blue Paw Foundation, I registered both dogs right away. I hoped I’d never need to call on them for help, but it was a weight off my shoulders to know they were there.” 

The Thin Blue Paw Foundation is a UK dog welfare charity that celebrates, protects and supports working and retired police dogs. The charity provides financial assistance to the owners of retired police dogs to ensure they can access the best veterinary treatment so they can live long, happy retirements.  

Police dogs receive no financial assistance from the force they served with when they retire, and they can be incredibly difficult to insure due to the hard working lives they’ve led, often triggering lifelong health conditions. 

Bailey-©-Abbey-Vet-Centre

On 8 April, Chris came downstairs at his home in Grimsby to find Bailey collapsed in his kennel surrounded by vomit and diarrhoea and rushed him to the vets.  

“Bailey was at the vets for six days and, for the first few days, we really thought we were going to lose him,” Chris said. “The vets said we could euthanise him but we didn’t want to give up on him. He needed 9l of fluid to rehydrate him but he finally started to perk up, lift his head and wag his tail again.”

Bailey was diagnosed with Cushings disease – caused by a hormonal imbalance – and vets believed he fell ill due to an infection caused either by a urinary tract infection or inflamed prostate.  

Chris was faced with a £1,500 bill for his treatment.  

Chris said: “We’re just so pleased that Bailey pulled through and that he’s now back home and recovering well. I had assumed that I’d cover the bill and was in a fortunate position where I had the funds if needed, but I was thrilled when the Foundation offered to cover the bill. Bailey will need lifelong treatment to manage the Cushing’s as well as regular check-ups so it’s a huge weight off my mind to know I have the support of the Foundation to ensure that Bailey gets the care and treatment he needs.” 

Thin Blue Paw trustee Dave Wardell said: “Poor Bailey was on the brink of death and needed costly but life-saving emergency treatment to nurse him back to health. This is a traumatic situation for any dog owner to find themself in; but the adopters of retired police dogs not only have to make difficult decisions with the best interests of their pet in mind, but also with their finances in mind.  

“While those of us with pet dogs can take our insurance policies to help us should the worst happen and our beloved dog need life-saving treatment; it’s almost impossible to insure retired police dogs due to the strenuous working lives they’ve led. We founded the charity because we wanted to ensure that no owners, like Chris, would be in a position where they’d have to choose between putting food on the table and paying their bills, or paying for treatment for their dog. 

“These dogs are unsung heroes who have dedicated their lives to fighting crime, bringing criminals to justice, and keeping the public safe. The least they, and their owners, deserve is a happy and healthy retirement.” 

To help the Thin Blue Paw Foundation – which supports 300 dogs across the UK – please visit: https://donate.thinbluepaw.org.uk.