An award-winning police dog, whose face relaunched the Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire (BCH) Dog Unit’s Facebook page, has retired.
Seven-year-old Oz – formerly called Woz – was born as part of a litter in the West Midlands Puppy Breeding Scheme and started working with his handler in the BCH Dog Unit in 2013.
Throughout his career, Oz has attended a wide range of incidents – predominantly in Hertfordshire, successfully locating missing people, tracking and detaining suspects and locating vital evidence at crime scenes.
Oz was also specially trained as a Public Order and Firearms Support Dog, which saw him attend football matches in Luton to maintain order and spontaneous and pre-planned firearm incidents and operations around the three counties.
In October (2018) Oz and his handler’s hard work and dedication was recognised at Hertfordshire Constabulary’s annual award ceremony as they scooped the Joint Protective Services Officer of the Year Award.
Also in October, two men were sentenced to a total of 11 years in prison for their role in a series of burglaries in the Potters Bar area. Following an incident in the town in April (2018), three men ran from officers. One was caught, but two disappeared after climbing fencing into gardens.
The German Shepherd was deployed and he and his handler systematically worked their way through numerous gardens. After continuing to track for around 30 minutes Oz located the two men in an outbuilding.
In August Oz supported local officers in Stevenage, which saw him help contain a suspect who was subsequently arrested on suspicion of assault and public orders offences.
In the same month, Oz was deployed in Hemel Hempstead after a pursuit and decamp. Oz’s super nose soon tracked the suspected driver who was arrested on suspicion of failing to stop for police and dangerous driving.
In Hitchin in April Oz’s nose was in action for a different reason as he searched for and located a discarded knife, which led to the arrest of a person on suspicion of being in possession of an offensive weapon.
At the beginning of last year, a burglar was sentenced to four years in prison after being caught by Oz following a break-in in Hatfield. Oz searched through alleyways, roads and parks before leading officers to the front door of a block of flats.
Once inside the communal area, officers identified a flat where there was activity inside. The man was then arrested.
“Oz’s desire, willingness and commitment to his role have led to numerous successful results and his no-nonsense and determined approach to incidents has led to lengthy prison sentences for offenders and justice for the victims,” said Oz’s handler of six years.
“This has been achieved utilising his natural abilities. He clearly enjoyed the part he played and his larger than life character and reputation preceded him.
“It’s been a real pleasure and honour to work alongside him. From the moment I met him there was a connection and a glint in his eye. We have learned together and I’ve got some great memories and had some excellent experiences along the way.”
Oz will be remaining with his handler, who added: “There are two sides to Oz. He’s a real softy at home, but there was a distinctive difference when he was at work. He’s been a loyal and committed partner who has been ready to work at a moment’s notice. He has earned a long and healthy retirement.”
Joint Protective Services Assistant Chief Constable Paul Fullwood said: “It’s been an absolute pleasure to regularly hear all about Oz’s exploits throughout his career, from finding missing people to tracking suspects.
“He’s been a fantastic member of the team and is a credit to his handler. Oz has truly earned a long, enjoyable retirement and we’re all very grateful for his work.”