A partnership between the RSPCA and the police could change the future for thousands of unwanted bull breeds of dogs in rescue centres across the country.
A PC from Avon and Somerset Police and a centre supervisor at the RSPCA have been recognised for their important work in scouting unwanted dogs with the potential to make it as policing dogs.
A number of high profile success stories has helped demonstrate how suitable breeds like Staffordshire Bull Terriers can be for police work.
Their first staffie success story was Kos who was rehomed to PC Lee Webb in 2012.
I am proud to have handled one of the Country's first Staffy crosses, Kos, who was the first of his kind from West Hatch.
More recently, a spaniel cross called Sid went on to be trained as a sniffer dog specialising in explosives. He's worked at the London 2012 Olympics and even protected US President Barack Obama during his visit to Ireland in 2011.
Another success story who may be familiar to ITV West Country viewers is Stella - the unwanted stray who last year won an award for her work as a police dog.
PC Todd now takes Stella into schools to help promote her work, she said:
Working with Stella has completely changed my life. I have been blown away by her - even on her first day she sniffed out £200 cash. It’s easy to be sceptical as staffies aren’t typical police dog breeds but if you give them a chance the sky's the limit.
An a ceremony in London last night, the work done to discover dogs like Stella was celebrated in the fourth annual Animal Hero Awards.
TV presenter Matt Johnson, who presented the award to Sue and Lee, said: “Staffies are such amazing dogs, they are friendly and loyal - the opposite to what people often think. I have heard so many fantastic stories here tonight, my Dad and my brother both work for the police so this one really hit home, dogs can fulfill so many purposes in people’s lives."
We both love dogs and trying to do the very best for them and our respective organisations. I feel honoured to have a trusting working relationship with such a prestigious centre, well known for its work with wildlife, and perhaps now for its work with dogs. I hope that our special relationship will continue for the years ahead, and that we continue to provide dogs with a happy and fulfilled future.
Sue Dicks from the RSPCA says she's overwhelmed by the award, and hopes the legacy will help change people's attitudes towards staffies and other bull breeds.
“Dogs should never be judged on their appearance alone. I really hope the legacy of the work we carry out at West Hatch goes to show that all rescue dogs including staffies are incredibly loyal and hardworking dogs capable of great things.”
I’m so proud of all the incredible dogs that have been rehomed from West Hatch. To know they are out there working for the public to make the world a safer place is a huge achievement. “These dogs were brought into us unwanted and victims of cruelty and neglect - but now they have become real life animal heroe