The first ever National Service Dog awards, sponsored by Drontal, were recently presented to eight well-deserving recipients from the Police, Military, Prison Service and British Transport Police.
The ceremony - which aims to honour bravery, dedication to duty and outstanding achievement – was held at this year’s All About Dogs event (the country’s largest outdoor canine event).
The Lord Lieutenant of Essex, Lord Petre presented the awards which included large hand-engraved pewter wall plates as well as hand-made leather bridle leads with an inscribed brass inlay.
Those honoured included Lance Corporal Jenny Chester (of the Royal Army Veterinary Corps) and her arms explosive dog Bonny. Their unenviable role, whilst stationed in Iraq, was to check vehicles for explosives 100 yards from manned checkpoints, to prevent suicide bombers targeting high numbers of military personnel.
Also honoured was PC John Mann (of the British Transport Police) and his drugs search dog Charlie. In the process of making nearly 2,800 arrests (and, in 2004 alone, drug seizures of £250,000), Charlie has been kicked and punched, had beer glasses smashed over him and, on one occasion, was left unconscious by a vicious attack to prevent him carrying out his duties.
Sabrina Stroud from sponsor and leading dog and cat wormer, Drontal, explained: “It is right that we recognise the immense contribution these incredible dogs and their handlers make to maintain our safety – often going way beyond the call of duty.”
Roy Dyer, the driving force behind the inaugural awards, founder of the Essex Dog Display Team and organiser of the All About Dogs event, added: “The awards have been a huge success, with many impressive nominations received from the world of service dogs. Winning a National Service Dog award is akin to receiving a gold medal in the Olympics and we are already planning next year’s event.”