Stray puppy found wandering streets near Heathrow Airport becomes police dog

PC Lee Huffer with Police Dog Russo
PC Lee Huffer with Police Dog Russo -Credit:SWNS

An abandoned puppy found wandering the streets near Heathrow Airport has become a police dog after being rehomed and raised in Essex. Russo, the Belgian Malinois is now sniffing out crime as part of Nottinghamshire Police's dog unit.

He was rescued by a rescue centre in Essex at just a few months old last year before being introduced to Nottinghamshire Police as part of a rehoming project. Police dog handling experts immediately spotted his potential and Russo was taken for tests to check his suitability.

The lively youngster - who is believed to be 14 months old - completed an eight-week training course on Wednesday and hit the streets the following day. He has been partnered with PC Lee Huffer who he will live with while the pair tackle crime in Nottinghamshire.

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PC Huffer said: “Russo certainly had a tough start to his life – most of which we know very little about. What we do know, however, is that he has adapted to this new role extremely well and that he will make an exceptional police dog.

“The past eight weeks have been hard work, but they’ve also been really enjoyable. Russo has been a joy to work with and it has been really rewarding to get to know a different dog. Like people, they are all different and respond in different ways and need slightly different approaches to get the best out of them.

“So far it’s been a real privilege to work with him and I am looking forward to seeing what we can achieve together as a team.”

Dog Section Sergeant Nicholas Dachtler explained that while a lot of people buy Belgian Malinois, very few are capable of meeting their needs.

Police Dog Russo in training.
Police Dog Russo in training. -Credit:SWNS

He said: “Belgian Malinois make excellent working dogs but very demanding pets. In recent years they have been featured in several films and have become more popular with the general public as a result. Sadly, some of these owners will not have the necessary skills or experience to train and own such a demanding dog – leading them to be given up to rescue centres or abandoned.

“I am just really pleased that Russo’s natural abilities as a working animal will now be put to use in protecting the public.”

Chief Inspector Amy English presented PC Huffer with his licensing certificate on Wednesday.

Police Dog Russo in training
Police Dog Russo in training -Credit:SWNS

She said: “Police dog handlers and their animals go through rigorous initial and ongoing training programmes, and I am continually impressed by the skill and professionalism our officers demonstrate throughout this process. What impresses me most, however, is the sheer dedication our handlers show to their dogs and the impact their chosen role has on their personal and family lives.

"Because police dogs are not just pieces of police equipment like a Taser or a car; they live with and are cared for every day by their handlers and are a major part of their personal lives as well as their work lives. The commitment to being a dog handler really is 24/7 and I would like to thank to PC Huffer and every other dog handler within Nottinghamshire Police for everything they do to protect and serve the public.”