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Animal heroes honoured at party conference

The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) has presented special awards to police dogs for their work to keep people safe at this year's party conferences.

Three explosive detection dogs and their handlers from Sussex Police Dog Unit received rosettes, honouring the unit's work to keep the Labour Party Conference safe in a climate of heightened security fears.

The rosettes were awarded at a special "Animal Heroes" event last Monday, in front of Brighton's Grand Hotel. Home Office Minister Hazel Blears MP, Minister of State for Policing, Security and Community Safety, attended along with Assistant Chief Constable of Sussex Police, Geoff Williams.

The Rt Hon Hazel Blears said: "I am delighted to take part in this event with IFAW to recognise the valuable work carried out by police dogs throughout the year, often in very difficult and dangerous circumstances. I also very much appreciate the work they do here at Labour Conference, to ensure our safety."

Springer spaniels Nash, Freddie and Lucy are among a team of highly-trained dogs being used to patrol the Conference and check for explosives. Throughout the year they carry out similar duties at events across the county where VIPs or Government staff are present, as well as maintaining a daily presence at Gatwick Airport.

IFAW's UK Director Phyllis Campbell-McRae, who presented the awards, said: "It is important to celebrate the work animals do for us and by giving these awards we acknowledge the tireless efforts of police dogs and their handlers to keep us safe."

In July IFAW recognised the work of London's bomb dogs following the recent terrorist attacks on the Capital. At IFAW's annual Animal Action Awards, which honour the efforts of people who help animals, a special award was made to London's three police bomb dog units, showing how in this case animals were helping people.