Tributes paid to a Police Horse and Police Dog who have both sadly passed away

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Northumbria Police has paid tribute to a Police Horse and Police Dog who have both died peacefully within the past week.

Serving Police Horse Penelope and retired Police Dog Russell both had a combined 15 years of service with Northumbria Police.

Penelope sadly passed away last week at the age of 14 following a short illness.

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She joined the Force’s Mounted Section in 2019 at the age of 10, becoming the first mare to be recruited by Northumbria Police in 160 years.

Formally named Bella, the Clydesdale horse lived with her four-legged colleagues at Northumbria Police’s stables in County Durham.

Sergeant Stu Coates, of the Force’s Mounted Section, said: “Penelope was without doubt the best police horse this Force has ever had. She was brave, bold and courageous but patient and gentle when needed.

Police Horse Penelope and Police Dog Russell. Police Horse Penelope and Police Dog Russell.
Police Horse Penelope and Police Dog Russell. | Northumbria Police

“While she was known for falling asleep on duty, she was always considered the leader of the section.

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“When required, Penelope used to go in headfirst to get the job done, giving confidence to other horses.

“Her career highlights included policing various large-scale protests, attending countless football matches across the country, and proudly leading last year’s Remembrance Sunday Parade in Sunderland.

“She was also named as ‘Animal of the Year’ at the Force’s annual Pride in Policing awards in 2021.

“Penelope really was one in a million and will be sadly missed by everyone.”

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Following Penelope’s passing, retired Police Dog Russell sadly died aged 14 at the start of the week.

The Cocker Spaniel started his journey with the Force as a puppy in 2009 and worked as an operational search dog for eight years alongside his best friend and handler, Sergeant Gav College.

Russell would regularly attend local events such as the Sunderland Airshow and football stadiums including St James’ Park and the Stadium of Light.

He also served in the capital at the Royal Albert Hall in the lead-up to the late Queen Elizabeth II’s 90th birthday celebrations and in the London 2012 Olympic Park.

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Despite him retiring from operational duties, he returned to work in 2018 at nine-years-old at Northumbria Police’s first Community Support Dog.

His owner and former handler, Sergeant Sally College, commented: “Russell was the most gentle-natured and loving dog – but also a manic search machine when in work mode, and he loved a tennis ball.

“A highlight for me during his role as a Community Engagement Dog was when Russell visited a dementia café where a gentleman took a shine to him, stroking him and smiling.

“His wife started to cry, saying it was the first time in two years that her husband, who had severe dementia, had shown any emotion and she was going to buy a dog.

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“Russell was so switched onto people’s emotions and feelings. He knew instinctively if someone was not well or was having trouble reaching him – if this was the case, he would gently put his paws out to help them.

“It’s fair to say that Russell was a unique character who touched the lives of so many people during his life – we will miss him so very much.”

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