Hero police dog gets award for London riots duty

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A police dog who sustained a fractured skull while on duty during riots in London in August was given an official honour Tuesday for his exceptional bravery.

Obi, a three-year-old German Shepherd, and his handler PC Phil Wells were bombarded with bottles, bricks and petrol bombs while on the frontline in Tottenham, where the trouble first flared before spreading across London.

Obi was hit by a missile, thought to be a brick, but showed no immediate signs of injury. He carried on working for several hours before blood was spotted trickling from his left nostril.

He was relieved from duty and taken to a vet for an assessment. A scan revealed a fracture to his skull above the left eye socket.

Obi, who is based at West Drayton police station west of London, was given time off to recover. He returned to work to complete light duties, but has just been given the all-clear to resume full service.

The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) gave Obi his special animal bravery award during their Animal Action Awards ceremony at the House of Lords, the upper house of parliament.

Robbie Marsland, UK Director of IFAW, said: "We are delighted to be able to highlight the amazing service given by police dogs such as Obi. He is a truly rewarding winner of our special Animal Bravery Award."

When off-duty, Obi lives with Wells and his family at their home. Wells accompanied Obi to Tuesday's ceremony.

"It was quite humbling to hear that Obi was to receive this award, in the same way that the public responded in the aftermath of the disorder and came out to thank us," Wells said.

"It's really nice to have the work recognised and while Obi received a lot of attention, we are just one of many dog teams who go out on the streets every day.

"Obi has been keen to get back to work; he didn't like being left at home when I set off on my own, as he loves it."

The other eight police dogs working in Obi's unit also received injuries on the same night in Tottenham, including cut paw pads and broken teeth.

© 2011 AFP

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