15 Aug 2011

Police dog injured during riots

The Met Police is paying tribute to the dogs that stood by the side of officers during the London riots. The handler of one dog which was injured says it was hard to see his “best mate” hurt.

Around 40 dogs from the Metropolitan Police‘s Dog Support Unit were deployed across London during the riots, supporting officers as they faced unprecedented disorder.

One of these dogs, three-year old Obi, was there from the beginning, sent out with his handler PC Phil Wells to Tottenham on Saturday. As the violence increased, buildings were set on fire, shops were looted, and missiles were thrown at the police.

It’s difficult to see your best mate get injured. PC Phil Wells, Obi’s handler

One of the missiles, a brick, hit Obi on the head. The dog sustained multiple skull fractures but emergency surgery saved his life. He is now recuperating at home and is expected to be out of action for several months.

Horrific scenes

PC Wells said: “I don’t think anything can prepare you for the amount of violence and disorder that was shown towards the police on that night. The scenes that I witnessed were quite horrific, with officers being injured, dogs.”

In total, 217 police officers were injured during the riots across the capital, the Met Police told Channel 4 News. Only one dog, Obi, was hurt, and no horses have yet been reported injured, a police spokeswoman confirmed.

The Met used horses and dogs to help them police the London riots (Reuters)

PC Wells added: “I’ve had Obi since he was 8 weeks old and it’s difficult to see your best mate get injured. But to his credit he carried on and continued to do the job he’s trained to do.

“We are just one of many, many dog teams out there that have been on duty around the clock 24 hours policing the streets of London to assist in the disorder that’s been going on.

“Although I’m extremely proud of him, there’s lots of other teams out there that are still doing the same job.”

Met Police and dogs
The Met Police has almost 400 dogs for operational and breeding purposes.

Around half of these are general purpose dogs, used to support various police operations – including public order. A smaller number of dogs are trained in specialist areas, such as drug or explosive sniffer dogs.

Around 90 Met Police puppies are born every year.