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Police Dog Tess enjoys retirement with owner Ian

1st February 2024

Photograph of Police Dog Tess enjoys retirement with owner Ian

Police Dog (PD) Tess retired from protecting the Dounreay site last summer and has been living at home with her former handler and now owner, PC Ian Disbury.

We asked Ian for the story behind Tess's career and what she is up to now in her well-earned retirement.

Ian said: "PD Tess was bred by my instructor John Kelly. Her dad, PD Vader, was also a serving police dog in the CNC. At 16 weeks old she went to Thames Valley Police (TVP) where she was puppy walked until she was ready to complete her initial General Purpose (GP) course. She became operational with TVP until her handler felt she wanted a different dog as she was ‘too nice’. As a result, she was returned to John and during my first week of his initial GP course she was paired with me. We completed the course in March 2018 and she was officially my first police dog.

“Our first job was to find a high-risk missing person, who suffers from mental health issues and had disappeared after self-harming. I received authorisation to deploy shortly after. Police and coastguard and family members had been searching for a couple of hours prior to my arrival with PD Tess. She immediately picked up a scent and tracked off the platform and onto the railway line and we located the young lady within 15 minutes of starting our search.

“Over her time as a PD we attended many operational tasks from searching for missing persons, to attending disturbances where a knife was involved and searching for property after an assault in a forest. She was also part of the Mission of the Civil Nuclear Constabulary in safeguarding nuclear material at the Dounreay Nuclear Site, where we were based.

“We have also attended multiple shows to give a police dog demonstration to the public. One of these was the Mey Highland Games which was attended by the then Prince of Wales, now King Charles III."

“Over the last few years PD Tess started to show signs of arthritis in her rear right leg. She was assessed and deemed fit to continue working but to manage her exercise to limit any discomfort. As a precaution I was also given a trainee PD puppy to in case PD Tess’s condition deteriorated. In the summer of 2023 TPD Hela passed her GP Initial course and took over from PD Tess.

“PD Tess has now had an operation to fuse her hock joint at the Royal Veterinary Hospital in Edinburgh and she is currently recovering at home, where she remains a much loved member of the family.”

The Countess Bathurst, Founder and Chairman of the National Foundation for Retired Service Animals, said: “We could not be prouder to welcome the beautiful RPD Tess to the NFRSA family.

“I met Tess on the final day of my Lands End to John O’Groats Bike Ride on 1 October last year, and she was a delight.

“The Civil Nuclear Constabulary is such a vital part of our homeland security and we will always be there for the retired police dogs in their twilight years.

“Tess is such a sweet girl and following her operation just before she retired, it’s a privilege to be able to give this special lady and Ian the support they will need going forward with her medical care.

“I hope she has a long and happy retirement after all she has done to keep us safe.”