Today I was questioned about Police dogs and horses, during a House of Commons debate.
Never did I think that I would be mentioning the names of Oz and Buzz in Parliament but I did just that! Those who follow me on Twitter and Instagram will know that I am a dog lover and that pets are an important part of our family. So it was particularly appropriate to mention my own dogs during this debate, before moving onto the serious subject of how we protect animals used by our emergency services.
I made it clear that any kind of assault on a Police officer, or on the animals and people who work with them, is completely unacceptable. I am clear that the special abilities of dogs make them a vital part of the Police team. For example, they make a fantastic contribution in searches for suspects, vulnerable people and evidence; in specialist searches for drugs, explosives, firearms and bodies; in crime work and, of course, in tracking suspects.
Although my speech concentrated on the work of police dogs, it’s important to remember that horses are also a vital part of the police force. I am totally clear that none of us believes police animals are just a piece of equipment.
We must also consider changing the law, not just for police dogs and horses, but more widely for service and working dogs – that might cover guide dogs and potentially those used by the Fire and Rescue service and others.