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PDSA honours dogs of courage

Cheryl and devoted Canine Partner Orca

The PDSA Gold Medal was presented to police dogs Blue and Zoltan and Canine Partner Orca during a special ceremony in Yorkshire on Wednesday 5 April 2006. Each dog was responsible for an individual act of gallantry and for saving human life.

Chairman of PDSA, Mr. Freddie Bircher, presented the PDSA Gold Medals, which are widely recognised as the ‘animals’ George Cross‚ and are the highest honour any civilian animal can receive for bravery and devotion to duty.

‘The dogs we are honouring today deserve recognition of the highest order,’ said PDSA Chairman Freddie Bircher, at the presentation held at the Police Dog Training headquarters in Wakefield, West Yorkshire.

‘With their immense courage and unstinting devotion to duty, these dogs truly exemplify the spirit of the PDSA Gold Medal. It is a privilege to publicly praise the work of these amazing animals and we can only marvel at the special relationship that exists between ourselves and animals. We are pleased and proud to award each of them the PDSA Gold Medal for animal gallantry and devotion to duty.’ Mr Bircher continued.

West Yorkshire police dog, Blue, survived a serious knife attack while assisting his handler, Police Constable Dave Proctor, in the search for a violent suspect. Despite the deep wounds in his shoulder, Blue continued with his duties until the assailant, who had been threatening police officers and members of the public, was taken into custody. ‘I’ve always known how brave Blue is but now everyone knows and he has a Medal to recognise it too,’ said a very proud PC Proctor.
Police dog Zoltan of the Cleveland Police Force, was stabbed in the chest as he assisted his handler, Police Constable Andrew Lawton, in the arrest of a man threatening the public with knives. The attack did not stop Zoltan continuing with his duties until the man was disarmed and taken into custody.

PC Dave Benson, who was Zoltan’s first trainer and his handler for the presentation yesterday said: ‘It’s great that Zoltan has been rewarded for his bravery. A great deal of time and effort is put into training a police dog but sometimes a dog has something special to offer and Zoltan is one of those special dogs.’

Orca, a Labrador-retriever assistance dog trained by the charity, Canine Partners, had been Cheryl Smith’s partner for just five weeks when he distinguished himself by saving her life. Cheryl, a student from York, was enjoying an afternoon in the countryside. Orca was running, as he always did, at the side of her wheelchair. Suddenly, the wheelchair hit a rock and pitched Cheryl down a 15-foot embankment into a water-filled ditch. The wheelchair landed on top of her, pinning Cheryl face-down in rainwater and unable to move. Orca wasted no time in going for help. The rescue services confirm that Orca’s skills and unstinting devotion saved Chery’s life.

‘It’s fantastic that Orca has received public recognition for all his did on the day of my accident,’ said Cheryl. ‘He did everything he was trained to do by Canine Partners, and more. Orca has changed my life and now saved my life. No one could ask more of their dog than that.’