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Police dog killed in roof plunge

A police dog died while searching for intruders a day before he was due to retire, his devastated handler has said.

Baz, a six-year-old German Shepherd who had worked for Northumbria Police since he was 10 weeks old, fell off the roof of a building as he looked for burglars in Gateshead, Tyne and Wear.

He suffered fatal injuries in the fall on March 17.

Pc Gary Saunders, who was Baz's handler since he was a puppy, said: "The sudden and tragic death of my police dog Baz has been a devastating experience for me, my family and many close friends.

"It has been one of the worst things I've encountered in 26 years of policing.

"Baz was a fearless and faithful partner who has, with me, encountered numerous highly dangerous situations but has died doing what most police dog and handler teams consider to be routine operational work."

Baz was one of 10 Northumbria Police puppies born in May 2004 and became an operational police dog in June 2005 and a firearms support dog in June 2007.

He was due to retire from general purpose work and his last operational day would have been the day after his accident, a force spokesman said.

Sergeant John Sim, who is in charge of the dog section, said: "This is a horrible incident which has led to the death of a dog who had given years of loyal service to the public and Northumbria Police.

"Police dogs live at home with their handlers and they become part of the family. He had formed a strong and lasting bond with his handler and his handler's family."

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