A newly-trained police dog who helped to track down a missing mother and baby on his very first shift has been honoured with a national award.
German shepherd cross Max and his handler PC Pete Lloyd, from the Dyfed Powys Police dog training unit, found the two on the edge of a steep ravine after an extensive search.
The mother and her one-year-old son had spent the night outdoors in a remote area of Powys and were said to be at "significant risk of harm".
The woman had not been seen or spoken to for two days, which was out of character, and her phone wasn’t working so concern for her safety was high.
Two-year-old Max was called to duty just before midday on Saturday 1 August and swiftly put his training into action, covering a significant distance to locate the missing two.
His tracking skills saw him nominated for the Hero category at the Daily Mirror Animal Hero Awards 2020, where he was crowned the winner.
PC Lloyd had himself only joined the Dyfed-Powys Police dog section in February and was on his first operational shift with Max when the incident unfolded.
The duo faced a huge task on their first shift together as they joined specialist search teams to trace the mother and baby.
“They’d been missing for some time, so there was big concern,” PC Lloyd said.
“There was a one-year-old baby; it wasn’t a warm day and at night the temperature had dropped considerably. She’d been out all night with the child. You do ramp up your search and give it that extra bit.”
After 90 minutes of searching, Max picked up on a sound and led PC Lloyd to the edge of a steep ravine, where the woman was waving and calling for help.
Mother and baby were cold and tired, but otherwise unharmed.
PC Lloyd added: “Max's training is to search for open areas. We searched all sorts of terrain - ravines, valleys, lakes.
“He remained focused throughout the long search and he proved invaluable when he reacted to the call for help, which resulted in us locating them.”
PC Lloyd had first met Max five months prior, when he was brought to the force as a potential police dog.
Max knew only very basic commands before being fully trained up to help officers.
“What Max reacts to is listening to noises and voices," said PC Lloyd.
"We were searching quite hard in a deep fern area and I thought I heard a little shout. He spun his head, he looked up the bank and was very focused on where the shout came from. I reacted to that and then he guided me to where he thought it was, and together we were able to locate them.
“He remained focused throughout the long search and he proved invaluable.
“You’d never expect to have such a great result from him on his first deployment. It was a difficult search; a long search. We're all so proud.”
Receiving the award, PC Lloyd added: “I would like to thank everyone who voted for Max to be nominated for this award, and to the judges who decided he should be the recipient. He is very pleased – as am I.”