Police Dog Shot By Man He Tracked In A Wood.

Rajah's Story

Paul Watts

Rajah and PC Pugh
Illustrated London News

Police Dog Shot By Man He Tracked In A Wood.

This was the headline in the evening newspapers that the public sat down to read on Friday 14th March 1952. The following is a collective account from newspapers such as the Coventry Evening Echo, the Liverpool Echo, the Shields Daily News, the Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer, the Daily Mirror and the Illustrated London News.

“Rajah”, an Alsatian dog belonging to the Hertford Divisional Police, was shot at early today and wounded by a man he was trailing after a house had been broken into at the Great North Road, Brookmans Park. Hatfield Police said that after receiving a “999” call they discovered that the house had been entered. Rajah was taken to assist in a search of the surrounding wooded area. The dog tracked a man and attacked him and brought him to the ground. The man drew a revolver, shot at and wounded Rajah in the shoulder and escaped. The dog was taken to a Veterinary Surgeon.

The man was aged about 25, five feet ten inches tall, thickset, with black curly hair and had been wearing a scarf over the lower part of his face, a dark overcoat and was hatless. A message was circulated to surrounding county Police forces and to the Metropolitan Police, warning them that the wanted man was in possession of a loaded firearm. Patrols kept up the search all night and road checks were made over a wide area. Other Police dogs were brought in to help in the hunt.

The house at Brookman’s Park is occupied by Mr. and Mrs. Neil and a maid, who told a reporter, “We were wakened by the barking of our dog and found that a man had got into the house by breaking the kitchen window. We dialled 999 and the Police were here with their dog very quickly. Some property was stolen, but it was recovered by the Police.”

Rajah has been with Hertford Divisional Police for about five months. He is 10 months old and was trained by the Metropolitan Police School at Imber Court. He is looked after by Constable 529 Ernest Pugh. Constable Pugh said it was the dog’s fourth time out and the first time he had really drawn a scent. The bullet had gone in at the shoulder and out at the middle of his back, “But he’s still fit enough to have the leg off you,” He added. “Rajah picked up the scent from the back doorstep. He went through the garden, across some fields and into the wood. He saw the man running. I dropped his lead and he went after the man and tackled him,” the Constable said. “The man threw him off and Rajah made a second attack. The man then pulled a revolver and shot him.” The Constable said he then tackled the man, who after a struggle freed himself and made off. “We had a do,” was all he would say to describe his own part in the affair.

Superintendent Leonard Elwell of Hertfordshire C.I.D. said that Rajah was believed to have savaged the man.

Making A Recovery.

Rajah, the Alsatian Police dog shot in the shoulder by an escaping gunman on Friday may get the silver medal of the People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals for bravery and devotion to duty. The dog is on fourteen day’s sick leave. Yesterday he was taken for a short walk by his guardian PC Ernest Pugh. Mrs. Pugh said, “Rajah is recovering very quickly, but we do not know yet whether he will return to duty. This incident may make him too vicious or too timid for Police work.” Police are still looking for the gunman who was disturbed while stealing silverware from a house in Brookmans Park.

Brave Police Dog Rajah Is Back On Duty.

Scores of children and grown ups wrote to Police Constable Ernie Pugh, 27, when they heard two weeks ago, that his Police Dog pal Rajah had been shot through the shoulder in an encounter with a gunman. Now Rajah, seen here with Police Constable Pugh at Bayford, Herts. yesterday, is back on duty and as fearless and obedient as ever. It was feared that the injury he received when he tackled the gunman after a burglary at Brookmans Park, Herts. would make him either too timid or too vicious to be a tracker again – for the encounter was his first with a criminal. But, in a try-out yesterday, he “got his man” and held on until Police Constable Pugh arrived to make the “arrest.” After this test Rajah went back to his two room kennel, behind Police Constable Pugh’s bungalow at Bayford. In the bungalow are many letters sent to Police Constable Pugh about Rajah. “It’s wonderful to know that so many people can appreciate the bravery of a dog,” said Police Constable Pugh.

Three months later a brawl took place outside a Public House in which a man sustained serious injuries. His assailant was unknown and there was no apparent clue to his identity. Rajah tracked from the scene of the attack to a house some distance away where, as a result of questioning, the assailant was arrested.

From the Story of Hertfordshire Police by Neil Osborn.

This was the first time that a police dog had been injured by shooting in this country. When the offender appeared in court one of the charges against him was using a firearm with intent to resist arrest. This caused a stir in legal circles, as it was a dog that was shot, and the handler was at the time some 200 yards from the scene. The offender was found guilty.

Former colleague said of Ernie Pugh, “He was a really good dog trainer and one of the original dog handlers in Hertfordshire. He became the first dog training officer in Hertfordshire.” “Pc Ernie Pugh a brilliant dog handler and a really lovely man spent many happy years in his company a truly lovely person.”

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