The London Retired Police Dogs Trust has overcome the challenges of 2020 to do some amazing work in support of retired police dogs and their owners.
We're extremely proud here at Metfriendly of the partnership we've built with a charity whose work will mean a lot to current and former police officers and staff: the London Retired Police Dogs Trust (LRPD).
Established by serving Metropolitan Police officers Phil Wells and Emma Dignam, LRPD's aim is to give retired police dogs the retirement they deserve. After their years of active service, the responsibility of looking after these dogs falls to their handler, or sometimes to a new owner.
This is a major financial commitment, since the nature of the work the dogs do with the police can make them prone to injuries and health issues later in life. It can be extremely expensive or sometimes impossible to insure retired police dogs, meaning their owners are often landed with huge vet bills, as well as the many other costs involved in looking after a dog.
LRPD has made big progress in its efforts to help these dogs and their owners this year, despite all the difficulties created by COVID-19.
We had a chat with LRPD co-founder Phil about the Trust's recent work and what it hopes to achieve in the future.
Adapting to 2020
The pandemic had a big impact on what was LRPD's first full year as a charity, putting paid to a number of spring and summer fundraising events.
However, the Trust adapted and received plenty of support from the general public and members of the Met's dog section, some of whom took on the Yorkshire 3-Peaks Challenge to raise money.
The charity also opened its online shop and welcomed donations to be raffled off.
"The generosity of the public has been immense. We've adapted, we've overcome, and we're trying to plan now for our second year as a charity," said Phil.
LRPD's fantastic charitable work has earned recognition from high places, including the Houses of Parliament. The Trust was invited to give a presentation to the All-Party Parliamentary Dog Advisory Welfare Group, which Phil described as a "brilliant experience" and a "wonderful opportunity" to talk about LRPD and the challenges faced by retired police dogs and their owners.
The charity has also won the support of some famous patrons and ambassadors: actress Dame Judi Dench, Absolute Radio presenter Sarah Champion, and TV presenter and adventurer Rob Bell.
Another big milestone for LRPD this year was its achievement of full charity status, which makes a big difference to its fundraising efforts, largely through the option to claim Gift Aid.
"For every £1 that's donated we get an extra 25p. It's just a huge amount of money that we can now claim back through the generous donations we receive, so that's been absolutely huge," said Phil.
How you can help LRPD
Looking to the future, Phil said LRPD's ultimate goal is to be able to support every application it receives, and further support from Met officers, staff and the general public will be vital to achieving that.
"The most obvious thing people can do is to make a small donation to our charity," said Phil. "We know times are extremely tough for people and we're not expecting a huge amount.
"When we entered this situation back in March our main focus was just to survive this first year and to do what we can. We've surpassed that, and that's thanks to everybody's involvement."
One of the ways you can help LRPD right now is by buying the Metfriendly 2021 Calendar, all proceeds from which go directly to the Trust. The 2020 calendar raised more than £8,000, which helped the Trust get on its feet after its foundation in November 2019.
"For a start-up charity like us, it's been absolutely phenomenal, so we can't thank Metfriendly and the Metfriendly members enough for what they've done," Phil added.