A brave police dog who helped keep the Fylde coast safe has been forced to retire after he was mauled by a pit bull in a horrific attack.
Max, who will be six next month, was injured in the line of duty when he and his handler PC Jon Kelly were investigating a reported break-in.
While they were searching for the offenders, a loose pit bull terrier attacked, leaving Max, who spent most of his career working on the Fylde coast, with serious injuries.
He needed emergency surgery following the incident – and has now recovered from the injuries – but was left unable to continue working.
PC Kelly, based in Preston, said: “I am heartbroken that Max’s working life has been cut short by such a violent and horrific attack. Max was simply doing his job and without any reservation.
“If he had not been present, I would have sustained life-changing injuries should the vicious pit bull have attacked me instead.
“He was a dream to work with as he was a natural police dog – his work ethic was second to none.
“Like all police dogs, Max didn’t realise the seriousness of what I was asking of him when deployed to find thieves, violent offenders, injured missing people or people self-harming. He just viewed it all as a big, extremely enjoyable and stress-free game of hide and seek.”
Max assisted in a wide range of operations across Blackpool and the Fylde, as well as in Lancaster and Morecambe, including EDL marches and hunts for suspects who had gone on the run. He joined the police in 2009, after arriving from Belgium when he was 12 months old.
On April 7, he and PC Kelly were among those called to a suspected break-in in Preston, where the attack took place.
The pit bull was destroyed at the scene after officers managed to pull it away from Max. A 20-year-old and 17-year-old, both from Preston, were arrested and later charged in connection with the incident.
PC Kelly added: “He was a model police dog. He was 100 per cent a one-man dog.
“He would never leave my side and was always desperate to please. He was constantly checking to see where I was and if I was OK. We formed an extremely close bond, working together every day for five years. Until this horrific attack, Max had never missed a day’s work.”
Max is now happy after settling in to a new home with another police dog handler.