Christmas shoppers in Sunderland meet retired police dog Russell

Shoppers in Sunderland were welcomed by a four-legged friend this week as Northumbria Police's first community dog continues to make a big impression.

Thursday, 13th December 2018, 11:49 am
Updated Thursday, 13th December 2018, 11:50 am
PC Chris Pennock with community engagement team members Sally College (right) and Paul Marshall (left) in the Bridges with Russell.

Retired explosive detection dog Russell, a nine-year-old Cocker Spaniel, isn’t quite ready to put up his paws and has joined the Community Engagement Team in Sunderland and South Tyneside.

The role comes at no cost to the force as Russell lives at home with his owner Sally College, who works with the engagement team.

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On Tuesday, as the festive spirit spreads across Wearside, Russell was introduced to the public in The Bridges shopping centre as part of a drop-in event.

Officers were also joined by the police cadets, street pastors and the Salvation Army Band, who all helped spread Christmas cheer and hand out crime prevention advice to the public.

“It was a fantastic evening, and probably unsurprisingly, Russell found himself centre of attention,” Sally said. The reaction from the public towards Russell and his new role has been unbelievable. He has been putting smiles on people’s faces”

As an operational search dog for eight years at Northumbria Police, Russell was regularly spotted at local events such as the Sunderland Airshow , the Stadium of Light and St James’s Park.

He also used his nose to search venues further away from home, including the Royal Albert Hall in the lead-up to the Queen’s 90th birthday celebrations and the London 2012 Olympic Park.