Nala's top dog as charity salutes Northamptonshire PD with lifetime achievement award

“She’s done so much to tackle crime and to keep her partner PC Foster safe, it’s an honour to celebrate her life and her career"

Wednesday, 15th September 2021, 12:57 pm
Updated Wednesday, 15th September 2021, 1:00 pm
PC Sean Foster with Nala's Thin Blue Paw lifetime achievement award

A retired Northamptonshire Police Dog is the first ever winner of Thin Blue Paw foundation's lifetime achievement award.

PD Nala hung up her collar number in May after seven years tracking down the county's crooks, including one who tried to CHOKE her.

And the nine-year-old German Shepherd's efforts — and those of handler PC Sean Foster — have been recognised by the charity set up to protect, celebrate and rehabilitate the UK's serving and retired police dogs.

Nala and PC Foster with Chief Constable Nick Adderley at her big farewell earlier this year

The award was earmarked for a retired police dog who made an exceptional difference during their service. Among Nala's most notable feats were:

■ In 2016 while responding to reports of an aggravated burglary, Nala was struck around the face with a crowbar but, despite her injuries, tracked two missing suspects hiding under a caravan.

■ Two years later, she helped track two suspects who had fled from a vehicle stop and search.

■ In 2020, she went after burglars who’d escaped through a residential estate. Despite the area being cleared by the police helicopter, Nala spent two hours searching gardens and found a suspect hiding.

PC Foster joined the Force in 2007 and moved into the dog unit in 2011.

He said: “I had a couple of dogs who didn’t quite work out and then was partnered with Nala in 2013 and we completed our course in February 2014.

“Even though she was young she had a natural ability with scent work when tracking and searching; she was naturally gifted. She was quite small but was very fast and agile.

"Tracking people – whether it was suspects on the run or missing people – was Nala’s forte; straightaway she had a natural instinct for using her nose.

“After a few years of street work we joined the firearms support team and worked on mobile arms surveillance operations. She was brilliant, everyone really enjoyed working with her. She always showed such dedication to her job.

“She was so placid, I could put her in an unmarked firearms vehicle with the whole team and she would be so chilled. She knew her job and you could go anywhere, do anything with her.”

Since she retired in May, Nala now lives with the Foster family — Sean's wife Paula, two daughters and their pet Labrador Maize,

PC Foster said: “You fall in love with your dog; she’s so much more than just a partner. She was here before our children were born and she became a part of our family; she’s grown up with our kids."

The Thin Blue Paw Foundation organised the inaugural awards to honour the nation’s unsung canine heroes.

Charity trustee Kieran Stanbridge said: “Nala spent seven years patrolling our streets, sniffing out fleeing suspects, tracking missing people, protecting the public and supporting the force in Northamptonshire.

“She’s done so much to tackle crime and to keep her partner PC Foster safe and it’s an honour to take this chance to celebrate her life and her career. She certainly deserves it!”

Northamptonshire's Chief Constable Nick Adderley said: “PD Nala and Sean tackled many criminals and been to numerous incidents. Their contribution to the force has been immeasurable.

“The unique crime fighting capabilities of our police dogs are second to none — they track and detain suspects across great distances, provide emotional support to missing people who may be at their lowest, use their heightened senses to locate cash, drugs and firearms, to name just a few.

"They put their life on the line every day to protect their handlers, fight crime and protect the people of Northamptonshire.”