They are the four-legged crime fighters who put their lives on the line to protect us. But what happens to a police dog once it retires from duty.
Suddenly all the costs and responsibility falls to the dog’s handler. These can include huge vet bills.
But now a new charity, Fireside K9, aims to help with some of that burden.
It’s been set up by West Yorkshire Police dog handler PC Duncan Matthews, from Wakefield, and the force’s chaplain the Rev Paul Wilcock.
The charity’s aim is to help care for the brave canines once they are regarded as being too old for their roles.
There are presently 22 retired police dogs in West Yorkshire being cared for by their former handlers.
PC Matthews is one of those officers. His dog, Kiro, has just retired and now lives with the officer and his family.
He said: “A really close bond develops between officer and dog, they are like a best friend and part of the family, and when I get calls from officers saying they can’t afford vet bills for their much-loved dogs, it is heart-breaking.”
“These dogs have had a hard-working life and you can’t get insurance for them because they are deemed high risk.
“So a police officer could be faced with a £2,500 vets’ bill they can’t pay and have a difficult choice to make.
“I never want an officer to have to be faced with that terrible decision of possibly having their dog, their best friend put down.”
The charity which already has a large following @FiresideK9 on Twitter, now has the support of Sky News anchor and dog lover Kay Burley who has agreed to be its patron.
She said: “I wholeheartedly agree with Fireside K9’s ethos - these dogs have put their lives on the line for us, so now we need to say thank you and treat them in their retirement with the respect they deserve.”
“When Duncan approached me to be patron, I was honoured and immediately said yes.”
And the TV news reader will help the charity with its official launch at Nostell Priory on Sunday between 9am and 4pm.
It will feature a competition between 12 dogs from six different forces, trade stands, free micro chipping and family entertainment.