A life-saving police dog who is now retired for service has been shortlisted for a top award.
Belgian Malinois Fiji joined Surrey and Sussex Police when she was just four months old having been rescued when her owner tragically committed suicide. She was paired with operational dog handler Claire Bird who had just returned from maternity leave.
The duo excelled in training and soon hit the streets to keep the public safe. They were just a few months into the job when an emergency call came in that would test all of Fiji’s training.
Claire said: “An emergency call came in for a high-risk missing person and there were concerns he may have been suicidal. Within just a few hours, thanks to Fiji’s amazing nose and her training, we located him. He was unconscious but alive; and Fiji had saved his life.”
She received a commendation for her work that night, but she went on to help so many people and successfully tackle crime across Sussex and Surrey.
When she pulled the ligaments in her leg jumping for a toy, her career ended and she retired to live with Claire and her family in West Sussex, as well as Claire’s replacement police dog, Eva.
As she got older she started to get really itchy and vets prescribed her with a special injection to be administered every six weeks, costing £140. As an ex-working dog, Fiji couldn’t be insured so a new charity called the Thin Blue Paw Foundation – set up to support retired working dogs – agreed to pay for every injection for the rest of her life.
Claire added: “The Thin Blue Paw Foundation is amazing. Having had police dogs injured at work before and having always kept my working dogs when they retire, it’s great that Fiji can be looked after with the support of Thin Blue Paw. If she needs any medical help the charity will always be there to help.
“I am so grateful that the organisation can cover the costs of Fiji’s regular injections helping her to continue being happy in her retirement.”
The charity was so amazed by Fiji’s stories that they nominated her for a commendation in the Autarky Hardest Working Dogs awards. She was one of four dogs shortlisted for the Service Dogs category but needs your votes!
Claire said: “Fiji is the most incredible dog and has helped so many people during her career as a police dog. While her career sadly ended early, I think she deserves recognition for the work she did and I hope the people of Sussex and Surrey will get behind her and vote!”
• Cast your vote for Fiji online: www.autarkyfoods.com/pages/service-dogs-2021
• Support the Thin Blue Paw Foundation by donating online: www.thinbluepaw.org.uk/donate.