'Hero' ex-police dog needs quiet home to calm anxiety

A “heroic” ex-police dog whose career ended after a suspect beat him with a metal pole is in need of a new home.

Nine-year-old Remo, a Belgian Malinois cross, spent seven years working with Police Scotland before the violent attack in Kilwinning in 2019.

It left him significantly injured as well as highly anxious around unfamiliar people.

He is being cared for by ex-service dog charity Hero Paws who have opened an application for prospective owners.

If they are unable to find a suitable home, he will be sent to live in kennels as the small organisation cannot afford to look after dogs permanently.

Founder Jaime Garner described Remo as a “loving, affectionate dog” in search of a quiet life on the couch.

Fractured jaw

Remo was a general purpose dog and a firearms support dog with Police Scotland, winning several awards over his career.

He has chased down sex criminals, found vulnerable missing people and recovered class A drugs as well as stolen property.

In March 2019, Remo was sent by his handler to apprehend a man in Kilwinning, North Ayrshire, who had assaulted his partner.

The man struck Remo and the officer in the face with a metal pole, fracturing the dog’s jaw and several teeth. He then bit a hole in Remo’s ear.

Despite significant injuries, the dog held the man down until officers were able to arrest him.

Remo had to be fitted with a titanium tooth and was given an award for bravery by then First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.

The officer, who also needed hospital treatment, said at the time of award that he knew Remo “always had his back”.

The violence left Remo traumatised and he eventually retired last year.

His handler contacted the staff at Hero Paws, who temporarily care for ex-police and military animals while acquainting them with life outside the service.

This means getting them used to domestic environments, which they may not be used to if they have lived in kennels while on duty.

Hero Paws were able to rehome Remo with a family in Dorset for around eight months.

However, their circumstances changed and the home was no longer suitable for Remo’s needs.

The charity is looking for a long-term owner with no children or other pets and have warned he may react to postal workers and delivery drivers.

Ms Garner said: “Remo is a loving affectionate dog – he’s nine so he’s really embedded in a lazy old man lying-on-the-couch attitude.

“He’s very sweet-natured but if someone looks nervous towards him he’ll get nervous. He’s reactive to people and dogs, and may bark.

“The work he did was absolutely heroic. We’ve had dogs who have been shot and continued to hold people down. It’s amazing for a dog who has gone through what he has gone through and still trust people.”

Why is it difficult to rehome retired service dogs?

Police Scotland currently has 139 dogs in its service.

After retirement, the dogs do not receive any financial support from the force and are ultimately the responsibility of their handler or new owner.

According to Ms Garner, who is former military personnel, some dogs can be sensitive to loud noises after they retire if they have previously worked around firearms or explosions.

Many live in kennels through their careers and can also be nervous around appliances such as washing machines, she said.

Another challenge can be that dogs go to homes with inexperienced owners who may decide to give up the animals.

She said: “There are different types of people – some genuinely want to rehome the dogs but for some it’s bravado and they want to be seen to have a police dog.

“Dogs like Remo for example are going to need more space from other dogs. It’s a case of understanding that dogs like these may not conform to the ways of other pets.

“Some people take on dogs and get bored with it, but it has a detrimental effect for a dog to fall in love with family and then have to move – we see a lot of that.”

Ms Garner hopes to open a sanctuary in Scotland to help avoid placing ex-service dogs in kennels after their retirement.

Her appeal to rehome Remo has so far attracted dozens of applicants which will go through a vetting process.

Police Scotland described him as a “truly fantastic police dog” who excelled in all attributes for general purpose police dog work.

A spokesperson added: “He was respected by dog handlers, frontline colleagues and management over the years for his dedication to the job.

“Remo certainly earned his retirement and we hope he finds his forever home.”

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