A police dog responsible for sniffing out more than £5m in cash, firearms and drugs was posthumously presented with the PDSA Order of Merit – the animal equivalent of the OBE – today (April 29, 2015).
Sky News presenter Kay Burley led the celebrations to honour Jake, who was recognised for his outstanding service to Warwickshire police over 10 years.
The dog made more than 500 operational finds including assault rifles, shotguns, hand guns, at least £650,000 in banknotes and more than £4.5m in illegal drugs.
The PDSA Order of Merit is awarded in recognition of exceptional acts of devotion and represents outstanding examples of the relationship between animals and humans.
This is only the second presentation of the award – the first went to the Metropolitan Police dogs and horses that served during the London riots of 2011. Gwen, another Warwickshire police dog, was presented with the award in London on Jake’s behalf.
Jake joined the force at the age of 18 months and underwent a four-week intensive course to search and identify drugs. He completed similar courses to find firearms, ammunition and banknotes.
After graduation, he was partnered with PC Andy Crouch and the pair worked at high-profile events, including royal visits, the Olympic Games, the Cheltenham Gold Cup Festival and major music events, such as Glastonbury.
At one music festival Jake found cannabis worth £2,000 concealed on a tour bus, resulting in the delay of the headline act. On another occasion he intercepted a car heading into a festival, leaping through an open window to uncover £1,000 of cocaine, hidden beneath the centre console.
PC Crouch said he and his family were devastated to lose Jake, especially so close to the award presentation.
“But I am very proud to be here with Gwen, to accept the award on his behalf,” he said. “Jake’s award will take pride of place in our home, along with his police commendation and his force tag, which he wore every day for 10 years.”
PDSA director general Jan McLoughlin said Jake’s contribution was “truly remarkable”.
“His track record was astounding and we are delighted to honour his fantastic career in this way,” she said. “The PDSA Order of Merit was created to ensure extraordinary animal contributions can be properly recognised and honoured, however and wherever they occur.
“Animals play a vital role in society, whether as pets, as assistance animals, or within our police and armed forces. “This award recognises their contribution and celebrates that special bond that exists between humans and animals.”