Cometh the hour, cometh the horse. Police horse Boris has been honoured for his unstinting bravery in facing an unruly mob during London’s 2011 riots.
Boris was one of the first mounted branch horses on the scene in Tottenham High Road on the very first night of the August disturbances. He was met with a sea of hostile crowds, burning buildings, and faced an onslaught of improvised and dangerous missiles.
The Yorkshire-born grey gelding Boris did not flinch.
A natural leader, he made a path through large crowds and gave other mounted branch horses the confidence to follow in an effort to control and help those affected by the disturbances.
Boris performed magnificently in what would end up being a 26-hour shift and then proceeded to work 14-16 hours almost every day during the disturbances.
His brave efforts on the first night may well have saved lives as they allowed officers on the scene the opportunity to advance forward and help those in need.
His outstanding service was honoured on Friday with his selection for the Special Hero Award at the annual Burgess Wetnose Animal Rescue Awards.
His rider, Constable Paul Copeland, was delighted with the award, which was presented by top British Paralympian Lee Pearson.
“I’m extremely pleased that the work that Boris does is being recognised and, indeed, the efforts of all the horses in the mounted branch.
“Boris is always willing, eager to please, gentle, laid back, brave as a lion, good to work and always a first choice when difficult deployments are anticipated.
“Boris can be relied upon day in, day out to act above and beyond the call of duty.”
“He is truly an outstanding police horse,” said Copeland. “Whether leading Her Majesty The Queen’s State processions, meeting and greeting children from deprived backgrounds, dealing with outbreaks of serious public disorder, or simply patrolling the streets providing reassurance to London’s population, Boris can be relied upon day in day out to do his duty. Even with the riots last August he was there at the front leading the way, he is the one and only big brave Boris!”
Boris joined the police in November 1998 as a four-year-old.
From his humble origin in a Yorkshire field, Boris has grown to show amazing courage in the face of duty.He was a young horse when he was selected to be trained to work for the Metropolitan Police, not having been ridden before.
He is based at Kings Cross Stables, but also works on state visits and had the recent privilege of being one of four horses selected to lead the Queen’s procession to the official state opening of Parliament.
He will also be involved in the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.
Boris has also received a Commissioner’s Commendation for his work last summer but, despite his heroics, he continues with his day-to-day duties.
These have and always will be preventing and dealing with crime.
This year, Boris and Copeland have been busy. Their efforts in searching for a suspect after a man was attacked with a claw hammer resulted in a charge for attempted murder.
Boris also regularly polices football matches and, on one recent occasion, when a man was knocked unconscious, Copeland and Boris pursued the suspect who was later charged with assault with intent to cause grievous bodily harm.
The not-for-profit organisation, Wetnose Animal Aid, which selected Boris for the bravery award, is involved in caring for and rehoming abandoned, neglected and unwanted animals in rescue centres across Britain.
Wetnose Animal Aid co-founder Gavin Gamby-Boulger with Dame Judi Dench, who was among the celebrities attending the awards.
Dame Judi Dench and 30 other celebrities attended the annual Burgess Wetnose Animal Rescue Awards in Knightsbridge on Friday to award, applaud and acknowledge animal rescue centres across the UK and abroad.
Hosted by Wendy Turner-Webster for the third year running, the star-studded line-up included Jenny Seagrove, Annette Crosbie, Rick Wakeman, Vicki Michelle, Rula Lenska and Sam Fox.
The awards recognise the valuable and endless work of small, independent rescue centres in caring for and rehoming abandoned and unwanted animals in Britain and overseas.
The awards also honour the “Best Rescue Centre” for categories such as small animals (rabbits, guinea pigs and chinchillas), cats, dogs, horses and wildlife.
Headline sponsor Burgess Pet Care, one of the UK’s leading producers of pet food, also gave out awards for the Best Rescue Story and the Best Rescue Pet.
Wetnose Animal Aid director Andrea Gamby-Boulger said: “In a time of recession, rescue centres are under even more pressure due to an influx of animals and a huge drop in donations.
“The work these small, independent rescue centres do is vital for many animals, but we must remember these animals are the lucky ones. Many thousands are not.”
Boris with Constable Paul Copeland, Ingrid Farrant, and Lee Pearson, who presented the award.
Winners at the event included:
Best dog rescue centre – Hope Rescue Dog Centre from Caerphilly
Best cat rescue centre – Caring for Cats from Yorkshire
Best greyhound rescue centre – Celia Cross Greyhound Rescue in Surrey
Best horse and donkey rescue centre – Equine Marketwatch Sanctuaries UK from Herefordshire
Best rescue pet – Basil the french lop rabbit – (below)
Best rescue story – Robbie the Staffordshire bull terrier – (below).
Hero Award- Boris the Police Horse
Robbie – Best Rescue Pet Winner
Robbie, a Staffordshire bull terrier, was found by All Dogs Matter at a London dog pound in February last year. He had been found by a dog warden in North London as a stray and immediately taken to a vet, where he was diagnosed with severe burns.
By the time All Dogs Matter discovered Robbie, he had seven days left to be claimed. If he was not claimed he could be “legally disposed of”, which for many stray dogs means being killed despite being perfectly healthy and able to be rehomed.
Robbie was not reclaimed, so All Dogs Matter removed him from the pound and placed him with a foster carer. Robbie’s transformation upon leaving the pound was instant. On the short car journey from the pound to Jackie, his new foster carer’s house, Robbie was acting like a different dog, wagging his tail and making eye contact.
Jackie is one of the foster carers All Dogs Matter rely on instead of leaving dogs in kennels where they suffer from stress and boredom. As soon as meeting Jackie, Robbie made himself at home instantly, starting to eat again and playing with toys. He became one of the best behaved dogs on his walks and was flying the flag for Staffordshire bull terriers that have received such bad press.
Robbie was rehomed by All Dogs Matter, but sadly he passed away as a result of his injuries only a few weeks ago. Mojo, from All Dogs Matter, took Robbie’s place and received his Burgess Wetnose Rescue award.
Sadly, there are many stray dogs like Robbie in dog pounds all over the UK, with recent statistics showing numbers have reached an all time 11% high. Numbers are at crisis point in most areas of the UK, and thousands of dogs aren’t as lucky as Robbie to have been rescued. Many are put down each year but All Dogs Matter work with two London councils and the local RSPCA to help find homes for the capital’s stray dogs. They also help members of the public who need to rehome their dogs and have recently seen a sharp increase in calls.
Basil – Best Rescue Story Winner
Basil is a beautiful French Lop rabbit who, according to specialists at a local small animal rescue hospital, survived one of the worst cases of neglect they have ever seen.
Basil was taken to Paws Here Animal Shelter after being treated badly in his previous home. He had been kept outside in a tiny covered hutch that was too small for him to even move properly and caused several problems for Basil.
The hutch was just covered enough to keep him warm and survive, but Basil suffered from scalded and raw feet from standing on urine-soaked ground for too long.
His lungs were also badly affected from the ammonia in the air, which eventually lead to chronic pneumonia.
When Basil was first rescued, his eyes could not cope with natural sunlight after so long in the dark.
He needed extensive veterinary treatment costing over £1500, including three hours in surgery to remove part of his damaged jaw and teeth from years of a poor diet.
Basil will continue to need this kind of care for the rest of his life, and is considered a permanent resident of Paws Here Animal Shelter living with foster carers Marie and Andy.
Basil’s health problems could have been avoided if he had been cared for correctly. Luckily, his story is now a happy one full of hope and love. He is now thriving in his new home and gradually recovering from the bad experiences of his past, touching people’s lives and with Facebook fans around the world.