A Leicestershire Police dog who was injured while protecting his handler has been honoured with a national bravery award.
Police Dog (PD) Astro received the Outstanding Bravery Award in this year’s Thin Blue Paw Awards – organised by the Thin Blue Paw Foundation to celebrate the work and achievements of serving and retired police dogs.
It was while Astro was on shift with his handler PC Grace Feavyour in November 2021 that the four-year-old German Shepherd, who is trained as a general purpose and firearms support dog, leapt to defend PC Feavyour when a man resisted arrest.
She said: “I am so proud of him for winning this award. He is an extremely loyal dog and we have a very special bond.
“While on shift one night last year we were called to respond to an incident in which the man believed to be the suspect was still at the scene. As he attempted to resist arrest Astro jumped to defend me and was then assaulted as a result.
“It was horrible to watch and I was so worried about him being seriously injured but thankfully he was okay.”
PC Feavyour followed in both her parents’ footsteps when she joined the force in 2015. Four years later, in 2019, she fulfilled her dream to become a dog handler and the pair started their ‘pawfect’ partnership in July of that year.
By this point their bond had already started to develop having known each other since Astro was just eight weeks old.
“My partner also worked as a dog handler until recently and he’d taken Astro as a puppy and been part of his initial training period so it made it extra special to have him as my first police dog. When not on shift he lives at home with me, my partner and our pet German Shepherd Riggs,” said PC Feavyour.
Fast forward three years and the duo have been responsible for tracking down a number of outstanding suspects, locating missing people, uncovering stolen property, weapons and important evidence as part of a murder investigation.
Their continued success has also led to Astro being named as the force’s best Operational Police Dog in 2021.
PC Feavyour added: “He is such a fantastic police dog and is a fast learner too. During our time together so far, he has had some fantastic results for the force and I feel very lucky to have him by my side.”
Inspector Cara Guest-Moore from the force’s Tactical Dogs and Firearms Unit said: “Grace and Astro are a formidable duo and become quite a crime fighting team. The loyalty Astro has for Grace has no bounds putting himself at risk to protect his handler.
“To also be recognised nationally through the Thin Blue Paw Foundation for their team work and Astro’s bravery is a true honour and one I know Grace is very modest about.”
Thin Blue Paw Foundation trustee Kieran Stanbridge said: “When confronted with a difficult and volatile situation, PD Astro showed how important his training is but also showed his bravery and loyalty to Grace.
“Dog handlers and their dogs have very special bonds and that is illustrated perfectly here;
Astro jumped to Grace’s defence without a second thought and, despite being subjected to a violent attack, saw his job through to the end. He’s a very worthy winner of the Outstanding Bravery Award!”
Find out more about the Thin Blue Paw Foundation and the awards at www.thinbluepaw.org.uk/awards.