TWO DARING West Midlands Police dogs and their handlers have been honoured for their bravery in the National Service Dog Awards.
German Shepherds Titan and Jack, plus handlers PCs Neil Cherrington and Darryl Marsh, have been nominated alongside the fire service and army’s finest four-legged servants, including bomb sniffer dogs that have toured war zones.
Titan chased down a rapist through a Midlands park last year − even swimming out to keep a grip on the suspect when he waded into a pond.
Meanwhile Jack tracked a burglary suspect for almost an hour before locating him lying low in a fenced compound.
Both dogs graduated from West Midlands Police’s celebrated breeding and training programme, based in Balsall Common, which has nurtured more than 800 dogs from cute-and-cuddly pups to crime fighters on the region’s streets.
Breed Scheme Manager Dave Raymond also pick up a special award for his commitment to dog welfare and making the programme arguably the finest of its kind in the country during the awards in Essex on Saturday night.
Selection committee Chairman Roy Dyer MBE, said: “Working dogs play a huge part in keeping us safe both at home and abroad.
“They often carry out dangerous missions and if they were not there, a vast number of crimes might go undetected and a great number of lives could be lost. We should never underestimate their outstanding contribution.”
Titan made his award-winning arrest on April 5 last year when he and PC Cherrington were called to a caravan park to help arrest a suspected rapist with a history of violence.
He fled, scaled a perimeter wall and ran across fields.
But even after wading into a freezing pond he couldn’t shake off the attentions of dogged Titan.
The 25-year-old, of no fixed address, was eventually plucked out of the water by officers and later jailed at Wolverhampton Crown Court for 11 years.
PD Jack sprang into action on October 27 last year following a police pursuit that ended in Kings Heath when the driver abandoned his car and made a dash into a housing estate.
He tracked through dark alleyways for more than 45 minutes before leading PC Marsh to a fenced compound.
Despite injuring a leg on metal spike concealed in undergrowth Jack refused to give up and chased down the suspect when he bolted from his hiding place.
A search of the car uncovered baseball bats and an array of tools and he was charged with going equipped to commit burglary.
Dave Raymond is the first civilian to be honoured in the National Service Dog Awards 20-year history.
He said: “We’ve worked hard as a team to develop West Midlands Police’s breed scheme and ensure a steady stream of top-quality dogs to protect the public.
“I love the job and it’s hugely rewarding every time I hear that one of the dogs that started life as a pup in our kennels has made an arrest or located a crucial piece of evidence.”
West Midlands Police was one of just four UK police forces being recognised at the event alongside City of London Police, Bedfordshire and Avon & Somerset.