START A PETITION 27,000,000 members: the world's largest community for good
Aug 21, 2006
Dear friends,

This letter (scroll to bottom of this post) from the Gwent County Police Department was posted by Simone to our group, "Demanding Tougher Penalties for Animal Abuse!" (Highly recommended, this group is where I do alot of my work on Care2). 

It seems that the Gwent County Police Department is trying to make the case that there are simply no alternatives for Saxon except to put him down.

This is absolutely ridiculous. 

If wild animals can be managed safely in sanctuaries, surely a german shepherd like Saxon can.  To suggest that there is no viable alternative for Saxon besides the ones they have considered is simply wrong.

We need to let the Gwent County Police Department know that Saxon has earned a right to live.  That no matter what "independent" assessments they hire, no one will ever know Saxon's side of the story.

Mike and Carol have offered to sign whatever legal waiver they request, relieving them of any liability.  We need to keep up the pressure for them to do the right thing.

K9's are safely retired as a matter of routine everywhere.  Please, if you can, do email Gwent County Police Department once more.  Let them know that there are alternatives other than the ones they have considered.  By no means is DEATH the only option for Saxon.

For example, he could be retired to a sanctuary.

If you have connections with any animal sanctuaries that would be willing to take Saxon in, please contact them and let them know of Saxon's plight.

Saxon has saved lives, including Mike's, he has apprehended criminals that would have taken lives of innocents in the community, he deserves to live.

If Saxon has been "spooked" or "traumatized" by his close run-ins with criminals, he can still be helped and deserves to be helped.  Retiring from active police duty and spending time with those who love him is probably all that is needed.  He does not have to be put down.

I know that I am preaching to the convinced here.  Sorry for that.  Its just breaking my heart that they would ever consider doing this.  Every time I see the picture of Mike and Saxon, I picture them on the couch together looking like some happy old couple, just like Carol described.

Once again, here's the email address:

I truly believe that all of our emails, signing the petition, etc. have kept Saxon alive to this point.  Let's all do this final push to bring Saxon home to the Townleys.  If this can't be done, we have to push for Saxon to be released to a sanctuary. 

Under no circumstances, should he be put down, just because this is the most EXPEDIENT option for the police department.  It is their responsiblity to save Saxon's life, just like it was his responsibility to save theirs.  To forego this responsiblity would be unconscionable.

                                 so much, Melanie

The following is the letter from the Gwent County Police Department.

The police dog Saxon, has now been assessed on a number of occasions in order to allow the Force to make the right decision about its future.

Concerns about the dog's demeanour were first raised by its handler several weeks ago. As a result, a local assessment was conducted by Gwent Police, which confirmed the handler's concerns that the dog represented a risk to the general public. The Force attempted to find an alternative role for the dog, but it was subsequently assessed by the Prison Service as being unsuitable for use within the prison environment.

In order to obtain an independent opinion, Saxon has since been assessed by officers from Strathclyde Police who are recognised nationally for their expertise in this area. The assessment confirmed that for reasons of public safety, the dog could no longer be used for policing purpose, nor was it suitable for transfer to another public service organisation, nor would it be safe for it to be kept as a pet by any member of the public.

A significant amount of interest has been shown in Saxon's future and Gwent Police recognises that for some people, this is an emotive issue. We have therefore decided to obtain a third party opinion from an organisation, which is completely independent of the police service. It has been agreed that an accredited member of the Institute of Professional Dog Trainers will undertake this assessment and arrangements have been made for it to take place on Friday of this week.

Once this assessment has been completed, the findings will be considered along with those, which have already been undertaken and a decision will be taken about the dog’s future. Gwent Police has commissioned this additional independent assessment to ensure that we make the right decision, which carefully balances the welfare of the animal against our responsibility to ensure that the public is not put at risk.

We would stress that no decision has yet been made regarding Saxon's future, nor will it be until the additional independent assessment has been completed at the end of the week.

- ENDS -

Corporate Communications

Thursday August 17, 2006

Ref: RG4492006
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Posted: Aug 21, 2006 7:36pm
Aug 11, 2006
Family fight to keep police dog

Saxon with handler, Mike Townley
Saxon saved Mr Townley's life many times, say the family
A police dog who saved his handler from an axe-wielding attacker has been put on death row at the end of his service, according to the handler's family.
Saxon, a five-year-old German Shepherd, protected Mike Townley, 47, many times during his time with Gwent Police.

His wife, Caroline, say his licence has been withdrawn as he is now considered "unsafe" and could be put down.

She wants to keep Saxon as a pet. Gwent Police said Saxon's future was under consideration.

As a serving police officer, Mr Townley, a Home Office dog instructor, was unable to comment on Gwent Police's decision to retire Saxon from active service.

Two youths came out and wanted to beat my husband up - the dog stood in front of them and wouldn't let them near him
Caroline Townley

However, he has applied to keep Saxon as a pet and a campaign to see the dog released from the police kennels at Usk, Monmouthshire, has been launched by his wife, Caroline.

Mrs Townley said the family owed a debt of gratitude to Saxon, for saving her husband's life on more than one occasion, as well as "feeling hundreds of collars".

She said her husband was told last week that Saxon, who has represented the Gwent force at regional police dog trials, was to be put down and that decision had been confirmed.

Saxon has been at police dog kennels for the past three months

She said: " This dog would have laid his life down for my husband. Mike was confronted by a man with an axe, who would have killed Saxon.

"Another time Mike was searching a scrap yard for some people when he fell and broke his ankle. Two youths came out and wanted to beat my husband up.

"The dog stood in front of them and wouldn't let them near him. He gave himself 100%."

She said the force helicopter once filmed Saxon chasing and rounding up four suspects who were on foot.

Mrs Townley said her husband has been told Saxon is unsafe because he bit Mr Townley twice in the first year they worked together.


But she said: "He says it was completely his own fault. The dog was being defensive. Mike said Saxon has not bitten anyone unless he has told him to."

Saxon and Mr Townley had worked together since April 2003. Mrs Townley said her husband was "distraught and extremely upset" at the force's conclusions.

Gwent Police said a dog's destruction was only considered if a force believes the dog in question cannot be re-homed, re-deployed or retrained successfully and therefore presents an unacceptable safety risk to the public.

The statement read: "In the past three years, 11 general purpose patrol dogs have been retired from the Gwent Police Dog Section.

"Of these six either went to live with their ex-handler or were otherwise re-homed. Five were put down humanely to prevent suffering as a result of old age, injury or underlying medical conditions, after consultation with a vet.

"During the same period there has only been one case of a dog being refused a license on grounds of safety.

"The dog concerned made an unprovoked attack on a kennel handler and after careful consideration it was decided that the dog should be humanely put down."

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Posted: Aug 11, 2006 2:51pm
Aug 11, 2006
Police dog rejected for jail duty
Last Updated: Wednesday, 9 August 2006, 11:11 GMT 12:11 UK  

Saxon with handler, Mike Townley
Saxon has worked with Mike Townley since April 2003
The future of a police dog whose licence was withdrawn because he was "unsafe" remains uncertain after he was rejected as a prison guard dog.
Gwent Police withdrew the licence for Saxon, a five-year-old German Shepherd earlier this year.

He was assessed by HM Prison Service this week but was found "not suitable as a potential prison patrol dog".

His ex-handler fears he will be put down but Gwent Police said Saxon's future remains under consideration.

Saxon's former handler, Mike Townley, worked with dog between 2003 and 2006 when Saxon's licence was withdrawn after Saxon bit a kennel worker.

In July, a Gwent Police spokesman said: "The dog concerned made an unprovoked attack on a kennel handler and after careful consideration it was decided that the dog should be humanely put down."

Saxon was rejected as being unsuitable to work in prisons

He added that a dog's destruction was only considered if a force believes the dog in question cannot be re-homed, re-deployed or retrained successfully and therefore presents an unacceptable safety risk to the public.

Mr Townley's wife, Caroline, has said she owed Saxon a debt of gratitude for saving her husband's life when in the line of duty he was confronted by a man wielding an axe.

After an appeal by the family, Gwent Police offered the dog to the prison service.

But a spokesman for HM Prison Service found Saxon was "not suitable as a potential prison patrol dog".

Mrs Townley has not commented on the decision.

A spokesman for the Gwent force said: "Gwent Police will now review the situation and explore other options for Saxon's future.

"He is currently being cared for at police kennels alongside other police dogs receiving the same high standards of care and exercise."

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Posted: Aug 11, 2006 2:48pm


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Melanie B.
, 3
Pittsburgh, PA, USA
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