When the Metropolitan Police department responded to the violence that ensued during the London riots
they were supported by K-9 dogs trained to control crowds in extremely dangerous and challenging situations, according to Met Police
One of the dogs dispatched to the front-lines was Obi, a German shepherd who has been with his police handler since he was eight-weeks-old.
Obi and Constable Phil Wells, of the Met's Dog Support Unit, were sent to Tottenham High Road where the dog assisted Wells throughout the night as rioters hurled bricks and bottles at them. Eventually their luck in avoiding being struck by the missiles ran out and Obi took a direct hit from a brick to the top of his head.
The brick knocked Obi to the ground but the police dog shook it off and continued to work as commanded by his handler, who said
he was shaken-up by the attack on his working partner, companion and best mate.
Well's said because of the amount of violence occurring in the riots "it was difficult to assess the dog following the impact but he showed no visible signs of illness or injury." He said they worked for several hours following the serious blow to Obi's head.
"It was only when we got back to the van and Obi was properly assessed that it determined he was not quite right and needed immediate veterinary care. He was lethargic and had a slow trickle of blood coming from his left nostril, which could indicate a head trauma," said Wells.
The police dog was transported to Queens Veterinary School Hospital at the University of Cambridge where a CT scan revealed he had suffered a fracture to the left side of his skull from the impact of the brick.
Obi was treated by veterinarians on duty at the animal hospital and released to the care of his handler.
Met police, who said "all the members of the K-9 unit were tested to their limits during the rioting," report that Obi will be "out-of-action for several months," and will recuperate at Well's home where he resides with the Constables family.
Constable Wells said: "Obi, like all our dogs, showed incredible bravery in the face of the mass disorder we have seen this week and we're now all wishing Obi a speedy and full recovery."
Met Police have almost 400 dogs in their K-9 unit. This includes dog assigned to daily operations and those used for breeding purposes. Met police dogs are used to maintain public order and to search for suspects involved in crime. A select group of the highly intelligent animals are trained in specialties that include detection of explosives and narcotics, according to a public statement
from the police department.