Retired police dog Nala, who spent seven years saving lives in Northamptonshire, passes away aged nine

Tributes pour in for one of Northamptonshire's longest serving police dogs, who sadly passed away earlier this week

Thursday, 30th September 2021, 5:09 pm
Updated Thursday, 30th September 2021, 5:12 pm
PC Sean Foster with Nala and her Thin Blue Paw lifetime achievement award

A retired award-winning police dog, who dedicated seven years to serving her Northamptonshire community, has passed away.

Nine-year-old German Shepherd, PD Nala, was one of Northamptonshire Police's longest serving police dogs before she retired from the force in May earlier this year. It was an emotional farewell for the heroic canine, who received a special guard of honour from her four-legged colleagues at the police headquarters in Wootton.

Nala was born on April 15 in 2012 as part of a West Midlands Police dog breeding programme. She joined Northamptonshire Police as a general purpose police dog after successfully completing her initial course licencing alongside her handler, PC Sean Foster, in February 2014.

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PD Nala

Nala, who was just 18-months-old at the time, was described as "naturally gifted" with scent work, tracking and searching. She went on to use those skills to have an incredible career with the police, saving numerous lives and touching the hearts of her human colleagues and community.

After a few years, she went on to join the firearms support team and worked on mobile arms surveillance operations, where she was said to show immense dedication to her job and remained very calm and steady when in unmarked firearms vehicles.

Nala demonstrated courageous perseverance in her police dog career. She was struck around the face with a crowbar when responding to reports of an aggravated burglary in 2016. Despite her injuries, she bravely went on to track two missing suspects from the scene, who she found hiding under a caravan.

Two years later, she tracked another two suspects who fled from a vehicle stop and search and, last year, pursued burglars who escaped through a residential estate. Even though the area had been cleared by the police helicopter, Nala spent two hours searching gardens and eventually found a suspect hiding.

PD Nala when she retired from Northamptonshire Police after seven years on the job.

Earlier this year, Nala tracked a burglar who tried to outrun police by riding at 80mph through Northampton housing estates on a stolen motorbike and punched a police officer in a bid to escape. Thanks to Nala's efforts, the offender was put behind bars.

Shortly before her retirement, Nala managed to hold on to a man as he attempted to flee from police even as he attempted to choke her.

Nala's bravery did not go unrewarded. She became the first ever winner of the Thin Blue Paw Foundation's lifetime achievement award on September 14, 2021. This accolade celebrates retired police dogs, who made an exceptional difference during their service.

The Thin Blue Paw Foundation is a national dog welfare charity that supports serving and retired police dogs across the UK. They provide much needed financial support to the unsung canine heroes whose vet bills are unable to be covered by insurance due to their working life.

Nala's handler, PC Poster, told the Thin Blue Paw Foundation: "You fall in love with your dog; she’s so much more than just a partner. She was here before our children were born and she became a part of our family; she’s grown up with our kids."

When it was finally time to hang up her collar in May, Nala spent the rest of her days resting and being showered with love and affection by PC Foster, his wife Paula and their two young daughters.

PC Foster said that working alongside Nala for seven years was an "honour and a privilege".

Nala was initially going to join PC Foster and eight other handlers with their dogs in climbing Mount Snowdon on September 13 to raise money for the Thin Blue Paw Foundation but Nala, unfortunately, had to withdraw due to a deterioration in health. PC Foster, instead, carried her collar in his rucksack so that she could still be with them "in spirit".

Sadly, the deterioration in Nala's health meant that she had to be put to sleep just two weeks later on Monday, September 27.

Paying tribute to PD Nala, the Northants Police Dog Section said: "It is with great sadness that we have to announce the passing of retired PD Nala. Very sadly, due to ill health, Nala had to be put to sleep on Monday. She will be very sadly missed by all who knew her and our thoughts are with her handler Sean and his family."

PC Barnes, also paying tribute, said: "So sorry and sad to learn the news of Nala. An excellent police dog with lots of results. I was pleased that she was recognised for her work and awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award alongside Sean. Rest in peace Nala, you are the best and we’ll miss you a lot!"

PC Hayward said: "Nala was the first PD I ever cuddled when I worked in custody and she was an angel. From then on, I’ve been determined to be a dog handler. I can only dream of being in a duo as wonderful and amazing as Sean and Nala,"