On 24 February, in a special ceremony at the Scottish Parliament, three dogs - two police and one civilian - were honoured for their bravery and devotion.
Police Dog Ozzy received the PDSA Gold Medal for disarming an armed assailant who, in 2015, threatened to blow up a block of flats in Falkirk after severing a gas pipe. Once the flat' occupants were evacuated, Ozzy and his handler Police Constable Brian Tennant entered the building, where Ozzy tackled the man before he could cause harm to himself or others.
Commenting on the award, PC Brian Tennant said, “Ozzy has been a loyal and exemplary police dog throughout his career. He has assisted with apprehending numerous criminals, saved lives and prevented countless injuries to members of the public and fellow police officers. Receiving the PDSA Gold Medal is a fitting end to his distinguished career, I am incredibly proud of him.”
Another Police Dog to be honoured was Sweep, who received his PDSA Order of Merit for outstanding devotion to duty during his career as a Detection Dog for Lothian and Borders Police and Police Scotland.
From 2007 to 2015, Sweep was employed to detect drugs, firearms, cash and poison,working alongside Police Constable Rhona Meikle. In 2012, PD Sweep became the UK’s only Poison Detection Dog. He retired in 2015, having completed around 100 successful searches. He successfully located £512,000 worth of street drugs, £250,000 in cash, six shotguns, three handguns, a flare gun, two rifles, 3,500 shotgun cartridges and 1,000 rounds of ammunition.
Upon receiving the award, PC Rhona Meikle said, “Sweep has made a huge contribution to the fight against violent and organised crime in Scotland. He has also helped protect Scottish wildlife through his poisons detection work. I’m so pleased he has been awarded the PDSA Order of Merit. I’ve always known he’s special and now so does everyone else!”
Another PDSA Order of Merit went to 'civilian' dog Sabakka or "Sabby", a Labrador who spent ten years working with the NHS Lanarkshire Learning Disability Occupational Therapy Service team. Along with Jacqueline Evans, an Occupational Therapy Assistant Practitioner, she was an invaluable asset in helping people with learning disabilities both in the community and the hospital. Thanks to her gentle nature, she also worked with clinical psychologists to help patients with extreme dog phobias.
Jacqueline Evans said, “After many years of devoted service, it is wonderful that Sabby’s skills and commitment to our patients have been recognised by PDSA. She is now enjoying her well-earned retirement and is greatly missed by all the patients and staff she has selflessly helped over the years.”
The PDSA Gold Medal and Order of Merits were presented to the dogs by PDSA Director General Jan McLoughlin, who said, “I feel incredibly proud to award Ozzy, Sweep and Sabby, three truly amazing dogs with their PDSA Medals. Each of their stories is unique and special, but they have all made a profoundly positive impact on the lives of people in Scotland."
Police Scotland, Assistant Chief Constable Bernard Higgin said, "Police dogs play an essential role in supporting our officers in Keeping People Safe, as these awards demonstrate. Our dogs and their handlers perform many roles, whether it be searching for missing persons, searching out illegal drugs, money, poison or explosives. It is clear that they are brave and fearless teams and the awards to Ozzy and Sweep amply demonstrate that."
Images courtesy of PDSA.