West Mercia Police has issued all of its police dogs with protective vests to help protect them from bladed weapons and the impact from blunt objects.

All of the forces general purpose and firearms support dogs will be provided with the vests, which will offer extra protection when in the line of duty.

Equipping the animals with protective vests comes after the force’s own PD Canto was injured in 2017 when officers were called to a property in Bridgnorth following reports of a man with a knife. When Canto arrived on the scene with his handler PC Emma Worrall he was stabbed in the chest by the suspect with a kitchen knife.


Chief Constable Pippa Mills, who is also the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) lead for police dogs, said: “As the NPCC lead for police dogs I am pleased that West Mercia is one of the first forces in the UK to fully equip its police dogs with protective vests.

“Our dogs carry out a vital role in supporting frontline policing and are an important part of our policing family. They are often the first to run towards a potential threat and can be at risk of being harmed. Sadly, we have experienced how it can affect the force when a dog is injured during the line of duty and it means a lot that we are able to equip our dogs with these protective vests to help prevent them from harm.

“Dog welfare is one of my top priorities as NPCC lead for police dogs and I want to ensure that we continue to protect our animals, as much as we protect our officers.”

Fortunately, Canto was able to make a full recovery and return to work, and even went on to receive a medal from the animal charity, PDSA, for his bravery.

PD Canto’s handler PC Worrall has welcomed the move from the force to introduce protective vests to all its police dogs. She said: “If at the time Canto was equipped with one of these vests it could have helped protect him from the weapon and saved him from the pain and injury it inflicted on him.

“Protecting our force’s police dogs means a lot to myself, as I have witnessed first-hand my own dog being seriously injured in the line of duty so I welcome this move and can’t wait for them to be wearing them when responding to incidents.”

The move also comes after the Animal Welfare (Service Animals) Bill was introduced in 2019 after a police dog suffered a stab wound to his head and chest as he protected his handler from a man carrying a knife during a robbery in Stevenage in 2016.

Finn’s Law makes it harder for those who harm service to claim it was an act of self-defence, rather than be treated as criminal damage.

Picture caption: PC Dan Hines and Chief Constable Pippa Mills with PD Alvin wearing one of the protective vest