Former Gloucestershire Police dog scoops Hero Dog Award at Crufts
A dog that worked for Gloucestershire Police for eight years before retiring has won the Hero Dog Award at Crufts.
Stella, a Staffordshire Bull Terrier, was a finalist in the Extraordinary Life of a Working Dog category with her owner and handler PC Claire Todd.
The nine-year-old started life as a rescue dog before working as a police drugs, cash and firearms recovery dog.
Claire and Stella were presented with their prestigious award last night (12 March) and a cheque for £5,000 from The Kennel Club Charitable Trust for a dog charity of their choice.
Watch PC Claire Todd and Stella visit the ITV News West Country Studios in 2015
Claire said: “It is just incredible, I’m speechless. Really it is amazing and we are so grateful for everyone that has voted. All the dogs are such worthy winners so we are over the moon.
“Stella is so special because she is a rescue dog and also the first Staffordshire Bull Terrier in the country to be a police dog and she has been worth her weight in gold to me.
“It’s brilliant the work police dogs do, they don’t realise how important their job is but to us it is invaluable.
"The police dogs are incredible and do such an incredible job. I was holding back the tears, I didn’t expect to win.”
In her working career Stella has found weapons and thousands of pounds worth of drugs and cash.
Outside her work with the police she has also helped people overcome their fear of dogs during school and community visits.
Stella was one of five hero dog finalists shortlisted for The Kennel Club Hero Dog Award competition in February.
Crufts show manager Vanessa McAlpine said: “Their story is truly inspirational and they are so deserving of this award.
“All the finalists perfectly demonstrated not only the incredible bond they share, but also the positive impact dogs have on all our lives.
"All the dogs and owners have transformed each other's lives for the better and we thank them all for sharing their stories with us. They are all heroes.”