TWO of West Midlands Police’s finest four-legged crime fighters are retiring, seven years after graduating together from the force’s police dog training camp in Balsall Common.
German shepherds Ska and Pride have been the scourge of countless crooks during award-winning careers that have seen them sniff out offenders, find missing people and uncover vital evidence.
Jet black Ska, who turns nine in July, won West Midlands Police’s Dog Action of the Year award in 2014 for leading handler Keith Bennett to a stabbing victim after tracking a trail of blood from her Northfield home to a disused garage.
Pride is three months older than Ska and was due to retire last year – though plans for him to put his paws up were postponed due to his boundless appetite for work.
Pride discovered a kidnapped teenager in 2009 – who had been bound, gagged and denied food and drink for two days – behind a false wall in the cellar of a Wolverhampton shop.
PC Adrian Sheargold, who was partnered with Pride for several years, said that Pride is a part of his family and the dog will enjoy his retirement at home with his family.
He added: “It’s like the old saying – a dog is a man’s best friend – but in my case Pride has also been a loyal work colleague.
“We’ve been partners for many years and Pride’s now part of the family.
“He’s got me out of plenty of sticky situations in the past, it’s only right that he enjoys his retirement at home with us.”
PC Bennett said it’s fitting two dogs that trained together as police pups are now retiring at the same time after careers dedicated to keeping the West Midlands public safe.
He added: “Ska was on duty for 16 days straight during the 2011 Birmingham riots.
“Together we were engaged in some of the most serious public disorder I’ve witnessed.
“He never flinched, though, and certainly played his part in restoring order.”
Keith’s new canine sidekick is Bart – the first full Dutch Herder to work with West Midlands Police – while Adrian is now paired with German shepherd Astle.