Police dogs injured during riots
The Metropolitan Police keep around 400 dogs for operational and breeding purposes within the force. Around half of these are general purpose dogs used to support various police operations – including public order. Only a small number of these dogs are trained in specialist areas, such as drug or explosives detection.
Around 40 dogs from the Metropolitan Police Dog Support Unit were deployed across London last week to support officers faced with the severe disturbances across the capital.
Obi, a three-year-old German Shepherd from the MPDSU in Station Road, West Drayton, was sent out with his handler, PC Phil Wells, on the first night of rioting in Tottenham. During the chaos which descended, missiles were thrown and Obi was struck on the head by a brick fragment. He had emergency treatment at Mandeville Veterinary Hospital in Northolt, North-West London and is currently recovering at home. Obi is slowly getting better but is expected to be out of action for several weeks.
PC Wells said: “He is my best friend and to see him get injured, to see him on a theatre table and you’re not sure what has happened and you’re not sure if it’s touch and go … of course it is very emotional.”
He went on to say that all of the eight dogs in his unit working the Tottenham area on Saturday suffered cut pads on their paws from the broken glass and debris on the street. Others suffered more severe cuts and even broken teeth.
This has sparked debates on several forums such as the Horse & Hound on whether animals really should be used in violent disturbances such as riots. This was also a huge topic of discussion during the student protests earlier this year when police horses suffered injuries from objects being thrown.