For the second year running, an Alliance Policing dog handler and their four-legged partner have been named the UK’s top crime fighting duo.
Police Constable Chris McDonough, 31, and three-year-old Police Dog Toro received national recognition for their commitment to the job at the second annual Thin Blue Paw Awards.
The pair, who have been working together for just two-and-a-half-years, won the Crime Fighting Duo Award at a glittering presentation ceremony hosted by the Thin Blue Paw Foundation at Knebworth Park in Hertfordshire on Thursday 22 September 2022.
The award celebrates a serving police dog and handler team who are constantly achieving outstanding operational results.
It is the second successive year that the Alliance Policing dog section for Cheshire and North Wales has won the award, with ‘formidable crime fighting duo’ PC McDonough and PD Toro having followed in the footsteps of PC Kelly Walker and the now retired PD Bart.
PC McDonough: “When I found out that we were getting the award, it was really humbling and overwhelming.
“For once, I was speechless.
“It’s nice to just get nominated for an award and to have a little bit of recognition for the work that PD Toro and I are doing, so to find out that we had actually won was great.
“I was made up.”
The pair were nominated for the award by Chief Inspector Simon Newell, Head of Alliance Policing, for their excellent tracking achievements – finding missing people, runaway suspects and stolen property and making more than 20 arrests in a year – supporting the Alliance Policing’s firearms section in major call-outs and ensuring the safety of world leaders at the 2021 G7 Summit in Cornwall.
One of standout achievements saw PD Toro manage to track a man wanted on recall to prison for burglaries despite having arrived at the scene a considerable amount of time after the offender had made off on foot.
PD Toro found him hiding in a hedgerow and dragged him out of it by his privates in one of most memorable moments in the first series of Channel 5’s Motorway Cops: Catching Britain's Speeders.
Chief Inspector Newell said: “The road to becoming a dog handler and getting your own crime fighting canine is an arduous one which takes dedication and skill.
“I’m very proud of our team of dog handlers and their dogs here at the Alliance. Seeing their courageous endeavours 24 hours a day, seven days a week is amazing, and I’m always blown away by what these officers and their canines achieve.
“PC Chris McDonough and PD Toro have done us proud, and their exploits highlight what the team are doing to keep residents in Cheshire and North Wales safe, often in difficult and sometimes dangerous circumstances.
“This award recognises PC McDonough’s handling abilities and tenacious PD Toro’s fantastic loyalty.
“Their partnership has gone from strength to strength, and they are now a formidable crime fighting duo with an incredible ‘rap sheet’.”
Kieran Stanbridge, trustee of the Thin Blue Paw Foundation, a national dog welfare charity that supports working and retired police dogs, added: “PD Toro is still only a few years into his career and has already showed an incredible natural aptitude for the role, as well as complete commitment to getting the job – whatever that is – done.
“PD Toro and PC McDonough’s achievements over the past few years are very impressive, and it’s clear that this partnership has the upmost respect of their colleagues and bosses at Cheshire Constabulary and North Wales Police.
“They have demonstrated time and time again how they’re a top crime fighting duo, and the public is certainly safer thanks to having them patrolling the streets.”
PD Toro, a Dutch herder, lives with PC McDonough.
PC McDonough, who has been a Cheshire Constabulary officer for 11 years, working in the Alliance Policing’s dog section since 2016, said: “I had always wanted to be a dog handler, and Toro is my second general purpose dog.
“He came from a security dog trainer and joined the police dog training course with us in January 2020 at 11 months old.
“The bond that we’ve got is fantastic. We are best mates. I spend more time with him than I do with my friends and family.
“He’s a great colleague, and over the past two-and-a-half years we’ve become inseparable.
“My missus says I love him more than I love her, so that tells you what the bond we’ve got is like.
“I always feel like I’ve got someone covering my back when I’m out with him.
“As dog handlers, you deal with jobs on your own a lot of the time.
“We always go out searching on our own. We can be miles away from the car or anyone else.
“You are following your dog. I trust PD Toro 100 per cent, and I know if anything kicks off, or if anyone tries to attack me or him, then I’ve got his back and he’s got my mine.”
“PD Toro is a very determined, high-drive dog. He’s a natural police dog who doesn’t give up easily.
“Once he picks up a track, he’s like a freight train – there’s no stopping him!
“Tracking is his forte. He really is the brains of the operation – I just hold on for the ride and try to keep up.
“He’s got a very good work mentality and he isn’t fazed by anything, but once we get home he transforms into a family dog and a goofy idiot.
“He’s really chilled out at home and becomes very playful and giddy.
“PD Toro’s got a great on/off switch, but as soon as he’s in the police van, he goes straight into work mode.”
The award citation submitted by Chief Inspector Simon Newell is below:
‘PC Chris McDonough licensed with PD Toro as a general purpose dog in 2020, and in 2021 PD Toro progressed to become a firearms support dog.
Their partnership has gone from strength to strength, and they are now a formidable crime fighting duo with an incredible ‘rap sheet’ to support this claim.
Over the past 12 months alone they have tracked from crime scenes involving burglary, serious assault, domestic, persons armed with weapons and theft of motor vehicle offences, resulting in an impressive 21 arrests at the end of their tracking.
They have also had several other tracks whereby the suspect has not been located but they have recovered items of stolen property which have subsequently allowed the suspect to be linked back to the original offence and arrested.
In addition, they have been tasked with numerous high risk vulnerable missing persons incidents, whereby they have successfully located and safeguarded four extremely vulnerable individuals to get them the help they required.
They have also supported the Alliance armed policing teams at numerous firearms deployments, assisting with the containment and searching of premises during these incidents.
One incident of note involved a serious assault in Runcorn town centre, whereby the two suspects had fled the scene after leaving their victim seriously injured in the street.
PD Toro tracked these suspects for over a mile before locating them and them being arresting.
Another example of their work occurred in Warrington, where a male armed with a large kitchen knife made off from a domestic incident.
PD Toro tracked the male from the scene and eventually located him. The male then became aggressive and violent towards officers. With the assistance of PD Toro, the male was safely detained, with no officer being injured.
A separate incident in Macclesfield involved a stolen vehicle which initially failed to stop for officers and the suspect decamped. PD Toro attended the scene some considerable time afterwards and still picked up a scent of the suspect. After tracking the suspect through a housing estate and down alleyways, PD Toro eventually found him hiding under a hedgerow. It transpired that the male was wanted for several key and car burglaries. This particular incident was shown on the TV show Motorway Cops: Catching Britain's Speeders, demonstrating PD Toro’s tracking and biting skills to the nation.
This was not the only TV appearance this year for PD Toro. He has also appeared on the BBC Breakfast red sofa as he demonstrated the new body armour issued to the Alliance police dogs and helped to promote Finn’s Law.
PD Toro was also deployed in support of the security operation for the G7 Summit at Carbis Bay, where he was tasked with keeping the world leaders safe.
Given the successes consistently achieved by PC Chris McDonough and PD Toro over the past 12 months, they are undoubtedly an outstanding partnership and worthy of being considered for the Crime Fighting Duo Award.’
Pictured - PC McDonough and PD Toro with their national award.