Emergency fundraising appeal launched to help ‘hero’ police dog

A charity needs the public’s help to raise money to pay for life-saving specialist care for a retired police dog, which fell critically ill after suffering blockages in his stomach and intestines when he ate a toy.

Jun 12, 2023
By Paul Jacques

Eight-year-old German Shepherd Finn – which served with Sussex Police as a general purpose dog for five years – spent weeks receiving round-the-clock care at a specialist vet in Surrey after falling ill from sepsis.

Finn’s vets bills have exceeded £22,000 and the Thin Blue Paw Foundation – a national charity that supports retired police dogs and their owners with medical expenses – has stepped in to help cover the costs of his treatment.

Charity trustee Kieran Stanbridge said: “Finn gave years of his life to help fight crime in Sussex and keep his local communities safe. But on his retirement, his care fell solely to his owners and, sadly, they were unable to insure him so now they’ve been left with an incredibly intimidating bill to fund.

“Finn was in a critical condition and it was touch-and-go whether he’d pull through but, thanks to expert care, he’s now back home recovering with his owners.

“But this has come at a cost and his vet bills have climbed to a staggering £22,000. We’ve offered to contribute towards the costs of his care but we need your help as this is a huge amount to fund.

“We’re appealing to the public to help with this canine hero’s care but contributing as much as they can to our fundraising appeal.”

Finn worked with his handler Sue West from 2016 to 2021 at Sussex Police until he retired, aged six, due to hip dysplasia.

He went to live with Ms West and her partner, Adam, and their four other dogs, in West Sussex.

Adam said: “Finn loves retired life but still finds it hard when Sue leaves to go to work with her current working police dog. He still wants to go with her and often pushes his way through the door to try to go to work.

“Despite that, Finn has enjoyed his well-earned retirement, going on holidays and enjoying long walks.”

On May 8, Finn was rushed to the emergency vet when he fell ill suddenly at home. Investigations revealed that he had ingested part of a material part of a toy which then got stuck in his stomach and small intestines.

He had surgery on May 10 to remove the toy but was then rushed into a specialist vets a few days later when he fell seriously ill with sepsis peritonitis. One of the incisions in his small intestines was degrading and leaking into his body so had to be cleaned up and flushed through.

Adam said: “He was in a critical condition and needed round-the-clock care with the specialists to bring his infections under control and try to get his stomach working again.”

Finn needed multiple life-saving operations but vets have described him as an ‘absolute fighter’. He spent weeks in the clinic but is now finally back at home with his owners where his recovery will continue.

“Finn has been registered with the Thin Blue Paw for 18 months and we’re so grateful to them for offering to cover his costs,” Adam said. “We would have found the money somehow, but it would have been incredibly difficult. Our dogs are like our family so we would have done whatever we needed for Finn.”

Mr Stanbridge added “Hundreds of police dogs retire every year and many are adopted by their handlers while others are taken on by other police staff or members of the public.

“Many new owners find it almost impossible to get their new pets insured due to their previous working lives which means if something untoward or unexpected happens, like here, they have no safety net or financial support and can be left having to make heartbreaking decisions about whether to pay their mortgage or save their dog’s life.

“We didn’t want anyone to be in that position and so we launched the Foundation to ensure that owners had the support they needed and that dogs would have access to lifesaving treatment.”

Hertfordshire-based Thin Blue Paw Foundation – which has more than 350 dogs registered across the UK – covers the costs of medication and therapy for retired dogs, as well as lifesaving veterinary treatment and specialist referrals.

Donate to Finn’s fundraising appeal online: https://justgiving.com/campaign/rpdfinn 

Donate to the Thin Blue Paw Foundation online: https://donate.thinbluepaw.org.uk/

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