Retired police dog Russell to get his paws into community work in Sunderland and South Tyneside

Hard-working hound Russell has been keeping the public safe at high-profile events for years.

But despite reaching retirement, PD Russell isn't ready to rest his paws just yet.

The Cocker Spaniel, who is nine, is about to swap sport stadiums for sport halls after being crowned as Northumbria Police's first community dog.

Russell, who lives at home with owner Sally College, will spend his days accompanying non-operational officers at a range of events across the force area.

He will play an important part in helping the police reach out to vulnerable individuals in their day-to-day work, including young people, the elderly and those with disabilities.

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Sally College with Russell.

Sally College with Russell.

Sally works the Community engagement team across Sunderland and South Tyneside.

She said: "Russell is really excited to get out into the local community– and get a few extra strokes.

“He’s such a friendly dog who loves attention – and I’m delighted that he’s now going to be spending his days with me putting a smile on people’s faces.”

The police pooch has spent eight years working for Northumbria as an operational search dog - and was often spotted at events across the region including the Sunderland Airshow, and big matches at the Stadium of Light and St James's Park.

From left, Chief Inspector Sam Rennison, PC Smith, Sally College, PC Baines and Superintendent Barrie Joisce.

From left, Chief Inspector Sam Rennison, PC Smith, Sally College, PC Baines and Superintendent Barrie Joisce.

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He also stretched his paws further afield to visit other venues including the Royal Albert Hall in the lead-up to the Queen's 90th birthday celebrations, and the London 2012 Olympic Park.

You may be able to spot him as he gets to grips with the community engagement team in South Shields.

Chief Inspector Sam Rennison, of Northumbria Police, added: “Russell will attend events across the region and go to engagement opportunities with those hard-to-reach members of our community, in particular young people, those with disabilities and the elderly.

Sally College with Russell

Sally College with Russell

“We see Russell as having a vital role in our community engagement team. It’s a proven fact that dogs can sometimes provide comfort and happiness to people with a range of disabilities and emotional needs – from those in nursing homes and hospices to schools for pupils with special educational needs.

“There are many members of our communities who sometimes find it hard to talk to police officers, so the introduction of Russell will be an extra opportunity for us to speak to and build relationships with those individuals.”