Couple ‘in tears’ over vet bills for ‘hero’ ex-police dog

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Our dogs may be worth every single penny, but sometimes, those eye-watering vet bills can come as quite a shock.

Thankfully in most cases, we have our pet insurance to fall back on. But not all owners have that luxury.

Unfortunately for ex-police dogs, it’s extremely difficult to find an insurer who will foot the bill.

That’s where The Thin Blue Paw Foundation comes in, helping fund vital treatment for retired service dogs.

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One couple were extremely grateful to the charity after their dog Pablo needed life-saving treatment.

Carly and George Laflin, from Bury St Edmunds, turned to the foundation for support after retired police sniffer dog, Springer Spaniel Pablo, needed surgery to remove a tumour from his abdomen.

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10-year-old Pablo served Norfolk and Suffolk Constabularies’ Joint Dog Section for eight years until his retirement in August 2019.

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During his career, the sniffer dog recovered more than £250,000 worth of drugs, cash and weapons, and helped to bring criminals to justice.

Carly and George Laflin and their dog, Pablo

The couple adopted him upon his retirement and he became their beloved pet, but they grew concerned just before Christmas 2020 when he started struggling to go to the toilet and vets found a 4cm mass in his abdomen.

Carly said: “We already spent around £1,500 on examinations and investigations so when they said he needed surgery and it would cost around £4,000 we walked away in tears, not knowing what we’d do.

“Unfortunately once police dogs retire they receive no further support from their force so it was our responsibility to get him the treatment he needed.”

The Thin Blue Paw Foundation – which launched in August 2020 – agreed to cover the whole bill.

To show their gratitude for the support they received, Carly and George set themselves the challenge to each run 4km every day for a month in May to raise vital funds for The Thin Blue Paw Foundation.

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Police officer Carly said: “The charity covered the £4,000 bill after Pablo’s surgery and we wanted to do a fundraiser to thank them and help raise some funds in return. We decided to run 4k every day for a month, representing the £4k they covered in vet bills.

“We’re so incredibly grateful to everyone at The Thin Blue Paw Foundation for supporting Pablo and helping us; without them, Pablo would have still had his surgery but we’d have been left struggling to cover the bill.

“This is the least we can do to pay them back for everything they’ve done for us.”

Charity trustee Kieran Stanbridge said: “Just like any pet, taking on a retired police dog is a huge responsibility. But while we can get insurance for our pets to help us should something serious happen; police dogs are often uninsurable due to their previous working lives.

“We launched the charity to ensure that these canine heroes get the treatment they need and can live long, happy and comfortable lives once they retire.

“But we also wanted to help the families who choose to take these dogs on later in life and make sure they’d never end up in a situation where they’re having to choose between vital surgery for their pet or paying a mortgage payment on their home.

Pablo had surgery in January 2021 and returned home where he’s recovered well. While he helped his mum and dad with some encouragement, he hasn’t joined them on their running challenge.

The couple have raised more than £800 but would like to hit the £1,000 mark. They will run their final 4km run on Monday 31st May.

To donate, please visit justgiving.com/fundraising/thinbluepaw-rpdpablo.

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