Fundraiser launched for 'loyal' and 'dedicated' police dog who died in Leicestershire incident

PD Zyla, who died responding to an incident in Watermead Park
-Credit: (Image: Leicestershire Police)

A fundraiser has been set up after a police dog died in Leicestershire while on duty. PD Zyla was found unresponsive after chasing a man wanted in connection with an attempted murder into water in Watermead Park, in Birstall.

German Shepherd Zyla was taken to the vets, but died after the incident on Wednesday (July 3). The Thin Blue Paw Foundation – a UK charity for working and retired police dogs – launched the fundraiser after PD Zyla’s owner contacted them to say they’d like her legacy to live on by helping to raise funds to support police dogs once they retire.

The charity said that “losing any dog is heartbreaking, but to lose a loyal partner and dedicated police dog like this is absolutely tragic.” They added that her handler is continuing to receive ongoing support at a “very upsetting time”.

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Thin Blue Paw Foundation co-founder and trustee, Kieran Stanbridge, said: “We were honoured when PD Zyla’s handler contacted us to request that any donations in memory of Zyla be gifted to us so that Zyla’s memory will live on through our work supporting heroic retired police dogs across the UK. We’re providing ongoing support to Zyla’s handler at this very upsetting time and would like to say a huge thank you to the hundreds of people who have already donated in her memory.”

The charity said that “hundreds of people” have already donated to the appeal, raising £6,500. The charity protects and celebrates working and retired police dogs and their achievements, as well as supporting retired police dogs with veterinary care and rehabilitation.

It said that most police dogs do not receive ongoing support from the Government or police when they leave service, and are uninsurable, meaning their expensive ongoing care falls to their handler or adopters. Dave Wardell, also a co-founder of the charity, previously was a police dog handler and owner of RPD Fabulous Finn.

RPD Finn was stabbed was on duty
RPD Finn was stabbed was on duty -Credit:Thin Blue Paw Foundation

He said: “Police dogs put their lives on the line every day to serve their police force and their communities and help fight crime. Losing any dog is heartbreaking, but to lose a loyal partner and dedicated police dog like this is absolutely tragic. PD Zyla will be remembered for being a hero.”

The suspect was arrested under Finn’s Law – also known as the Animal Welfare (service Animals) Act 2019 – which was introduced following a national campaign by Dave and Finn. That was after Finn was stabbed while serving in the line of duty in 2016. Finn almost lost his life, but Mr Wardell was horrified when his attacker was charged only with criminal damage for the attack, sparking the Finn’s Law campaign.

Leicestershire Police’s Chief Constable Rob Nixon added that Zyla “will always be remembered for her bravery and service”. The force said the suspect, a 27-year-old man, was arrested on suspicion of causing unnecessary suffering to a protected animal. He has since been bailed in relation to the incident.

You can donate to the fundraiser in memory of Zyla by heading to JustGiving and typing in ‘In memory of Police Dog Zyla from Leicestershire Police’.

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