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Tuesday, May 24, 2022

SGT Harry Tangye “Break a window or stab a police dog?” the law is the same

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SGT Harry Tangye Storm is a 3-year-old German Shepherd Police dog, who his owner Jim adores.  They have  spent those 3 hard years nurturing each other through 13 initial weeks hard training and numerous courses and training sessions since.  They are always at each others side, can wholeheartedly trust each other, and will gladly put themselves in harm’s way to protect the other from evil.  The bond is unequivocal.

It’s a Saturday afternoon, and Jim is steering his Police Ford Focus Estate through the back streets towards the report of the burglary.  It’s been called in by a neighbour and it sounds like a good one.  A man in his late teens has been seen dropping down from a flat roof at the rear of a rather affluent looking detached house which backs on to some fields.  He’s been seen running with a small clutch of items towards the  hedge of the rear garden when the witness sensibly decides to give up the view in priority for phoning the police.

Storm is in the back of the Focus in his cage.  A beautiful glossy chestnut perfect specimen of a German Shepherd.  He’s in his prime. He’s spent years of anticipating his masters driving, every swerve and tight turn, ensuring he leans heavily on the opposing foreleg to keep himself balanced.  Jim knows his best friend is holding on for dear life so tries to drive more smoothly, more than impossible in these back alleyways. Blue lights on this sunny day, but no sirens as we don’t want to alert the burglar to our imminent arrival, the payback is the angry stares from the elderly couple walking on the side of the road who glance over to see which boy racer is disturbing their peace.  “Ah those cops again, not like in our day dear” he mutters to his wife, “Where’s their sirens then?  We should complain”

His wife ignores him like she has for the past 45 years and continues walking with her stick and her arm linked to her husband,  watching the rear of the police car disappear around the next corner, the blue light extinguishing any wish she has herself, to make a complaint.

Jim is nearing the scene now and runs his checklist in his mind.  Tracking equipment just where it should be and best have Storm’s toy with me for when he finds the burglar, after all, that’s what he thinks he is looking for!

The car grinds to a halt slightly scuffing the kerb on the alloy.  He winces knowing that that one will show no doubt, and he will have to report it later.  He’s out of the car and the neighbour is immediately pacing towards him with an excited urgency on her face.  The car rocks even with Jim out of it as Storm knows what’s coming next.  He delights in the hunt that is to follow, and he can’t wait to get started.  Jim fixes his harness and tracking lead, a sign to Storm he isn’t going for a gentle stroll, but this is a business.  The information is gathered as to where the suspect was last seen and having updated control room on the radio, Jim is off, being dragged by storm through the rear privet hedge.  A thorn catches Jim’s hand and scratches a deep gouge.  He curses and half-heartedly apologises to the smiling neighbour waving him off like a teenage son going off to college.  Storm is pulling steadily at the lead, trying to drag him at a pace he would rather go if left to his own devices, but Jim knows he has to keep him at just the right pace.  Fast enough to make ground but not too fast so he runs past the scent which may have turned direction.

It’s only a matter of minutes before he sees a track leading from the main road to a ramshackle shed at the far side of the field he is now in.  Between him and the shed, Storm is lapping up the scent.  He is transfixed on it and it is leading directly to it.  He wonders if there is a getaway car parked there, or whether that is where he will find his quarry hiding.  He has to hurry, radioing for backup as he nears.  He can hear the Police helicopter in the far distance, the thumping of the rotor blades breaking through the pounding of his heart in his chest.  His heart beating from not only the stress it’s been under on the track, but also charged by the adrenaline preparing him for what they may face ahead.

Up to the corner of the shed and no car has left yet, so maybe there is none. Storm rounds the corner as Jim shortens the lead for more control, and he hears barking.  Storm is telling him he has found his quarry and now wants his toy reward.  He’s bouncing off his front paws throwing his head forward with a full row of deadly sharp and powerful teeth in the fullest view Storm can parade to the terrified victim. It’s quick but Storm has lunged forward, Jim’s confused for a second as he’s meant to stand his ground unless threatened, but then he sees the flash of a silver blade streaking across the darkened shade of the shed wall, a yelp but the fight Storm has started now continues relentlessly, growling with a fixed jaw clamped heavily and stubbornly onto the victim’s thigh, shaking his head like a terrier on a rag doll, but the blade reigns down again and the cries from Storms victim and from Storm continue.

Jim’s utter horror seeps to the surface and he’s trying to pull his beloved friend to safety whilst kicking out at the assailant.  The knife flashes across again, and catches Jim’s hand, but he doesn’t feel it, he knows that now he is fighting for not only his dog’s life, but his own.  He realises they are alone with a frenzied attacker who will do anything to get away from this situation.  Jim now kicks hard between the legs of the offender and immediately the knife is flung to the side and the surrendered assailant shouts, “Alright, alright, no more”.

He pulls Storm away in a standoff position and Storm shouts his displeasure at his quarry.  Jim leaves the lead just a little longer than usual to ensure the burglar doesn’t think of running, and maybe if there is another accidental nip, then so be it.  Jim is angry, very angry, but he’s proud of his little boy, his best friend and as the helicopter swings around at low level drowning out the sounds of the barking, Jim glances down the side of Storm and sees blood, then quickly up to his shoulder, blood, and then his head, blood, and it’s too fresh, too much to be the burglar, no,  please let it not be, but it’s dripping, and dripping fast.  Jim shouts on the radio for a car fast, he needs to get help for his friend.  Storm slumps to his haunches, and then he lays gently down on his side, he shouldn’t do that, he should still be barking until called off, but he’s lost interest.  Jim glares at the burglar lying down leaning against the shed wall holding his wounds, shouting at him, “Move one inch and I will kill you myself”

Jim cradles his friend.  He’s just 3 years old not even half way through his working life, so much time, so much effort, so much training, and so much love, so much care, so much trust, and loyalty.  And then it’s no more as Storm ebbs away.  He’s replaced by a calm and peaceful tranquillity, a peace that is still only in Jim’s head as he is distracted for a second by the helicopter dipping it’s imaginary wing and swinging off to the side as if a gannet saying goodbye to a dying gull caught in a gale.   He stands over Storm whose chest has stopped rising, and weeps, placing the toy next to his beloved friends head.  “You caught him Storm, you caught him, my friend”.

Officers take away the burglar, but one remains to put a hand on the shoulder of Jim.  He watches a broken window of the shed reflecting the light of the sun against the chrome name tag of Storm, and a cloud moves across the sun, snuffing the last sparkle from Storm.

This is an account that is not based on any particular incident but is similar to a very large number over the years.  Currently in the UK, the injuries to Storm which caused his death are the equivalent of breaking the window in the shed.  It’s considered criminal damage according to the law.  In the USA and Canada, dogs are considered Police Officers and protected in law as such.  Please sign this petition to support having any assault on a police dog or horse be treated in a way fitting for the offence itself.  To be treated as what they are, living and breathing animals which are constantly put in harm’s way, to protect ourselves and others.  I think we owe that to them.

Please support #FinsLaw and support over 73K people by adding your name to the petition here.

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Trevor Sherwood
Trevor Sherwood
Trevor Sherwood is the editor and news reporter covering national and international news crime and policing news. Tweet your news and views to @TrevSherwoodPH

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