The British Transport Police Dog who was first on the scene following the devastating terror attack on Manchester Arena, is to be honoured by leading vet charity PDSA.
Police Dog (PD) Mojo will receive the PDSA Order of Merit* at a ceremony later this month, for his devotion to duty under the most horrendous circumstances, on 22 May 2017.
Today, Mojo’s former handler and now owner, PC Phil Healy, was joined by PDSA Director of Fundraising, Nigel Spencer, to announce his forthcoming award.
Discussing Mojo’s award, Nigel said: ‘Mojo’s actions on that fateful night enabled the emergency services to carry out their vital work, by helping to search and clear the area of potential secondary devices. Mojo worked tirelessly under conditions he’d never experienced before. For that devotion to duty and service to society, PDSA is honoured to recognise him.”
On 22 May 2017, Police Dog Mojo and his handler PC Phil Healy had returned home after an early shift. Later that evening, news came through of an explosion at the Arianna Grande concert inside Manchester Arena. Phil and Mojo immediately made their way back to work.
PC Healy explained: “On our way over to the Arena, I heard over the police radio that the explosion had been caused by a detonated device and that many people were injured. We also heard that fatalities were already being confirmed.
“We were the first dog team on the scene and it was very chaotic. Our first task was to search Victoria train station’s concourse, which was being used as the main casualty treatment area for the incident. Mojo searched around the injured victims to make sure that the area was safe and clear of further explosives, for the responding emergency services and the public.”
PC Healy and Mojo were then moved into the Arena itself and to the site of the explosion. Mojo worked in horrendous conditions, searching for secondary devices among the sea of unattended, abandoned items, to secure the area and ensure the safety of the Firearms Units and other attending emergency services working in the area.
PC Healy said: “Mojo was working well but he was somehow different. It was as though he didn’t want to be there, among the carnage that surrounded him. But despite this he worked on, clearing the area so that the Firearms Unit could move out of the area safely.”
PC Healy and Mojo were later joined by other dog teams and together, they searched the whole stadium. Mojo worked alongside his handler until 7am the following morning. On their way home, Mojo and PC Healy were called out again to follow up on reports of a suspicious item elsewhere.
Speaking about Mojo’s award, PDSA Director General, Jan McLoughlin, said: “PD Mojo worked tirelessly through unimaginable scenes of destruction and utter chaos. His role on the night was to make others safe – members of the public along with the responding emergency services, who each had their vital part to play. His dedication to duty, despite clearly being distressed by what he saw, makes him a deserving recipient of the PDSA Order of Merit.”
Mojo retired from British Transport Police duties in August this year, but his service will always be remembered.
Inspector Paul Miles from British Transport Police nominated Mojo for the award. He said: “I am so proud to see Mojo recognised by PDSA in this way. He acted in the finest traditions of policing, under circumstances that you can never fully train for. PC Healy and Mojo have made a stellar team in their time together and, as Mojo adapts to a life of retirement, it’s a wonderful moment to pause and reflect on his service and actions.”
Phil added: “There is no doubt that what Mojo experienced that night had a lasting effect on him, as it has all of us. His receiving the PDSA Order of Merit is a fitting way to recognise his actions. The ceremony will be emotional – I am extremely proud of him.”
Mojo will receive his PDSA Order of Merit at a special closed event later this month. The ceremony will also recognise the work of Greater Manchester Fire Service dogs, Cracker and Echo, whose awards were announced in August.
Mojo will become the 20th recipient of the PDSA Order of Merit, which, to date, has been awarded to seven dogs and ten horses. For more information about the previous recipients, visit www.pdsa.org.uk/
PDSA’s Animal Awards Programme was instituted in 1943 by the charity’s founder, Maria Dickin. She believed that if animals were recognised for their heroic actions, it would help to raise their status in society, ensuring that they are better treated.