The Day We Rescued Winston

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PC Nelena Paparisva is the latest contributor to the Police Now blog. She is a dedicated ward officer in Rotherhithe where she looks after all members of the community – furry and not!

“At 1200hrs on 12TH OCTOBER, I was on duty in full uniform at ROTHERHITHE, SOUTHWARK…” That is how my statement for rescuing Winston started.

It was an old, silver saloon vehicle with no distinctive features other than the fact it looked like someone’s home – shirts on hangers at the driver’s window handle, sleeping bags on the passenger’s seat, duvets and suitcases at the back. We looked around it and confirmed that the owner was not to be seen, not even under the large amounts of bedding present in what used to be the boot of the car. What we did see, though, were two brown eyes looking fearfully out of the window. That was the first time I saw Winston.

Winston had been abandoned in this vehicle with no food or water and no air ventilation. There was a significant amount of condensation on the windows and all the doors were locked. I wasn’t sure what to do but I was just not willing to walk away and leave that cute baby face trapped in there.

My colleague and I started carrying out checks on the vehicle in an attempt to trace Winston’s dad. While waiting for the control room to get back to me with details, I looked at Winston who had now started moving back and forth and getting agitated inside the back of this vehicle. I’m not sure whether it was my adrenaline or Winston’s huge eyes that made me want to break the window (or possibly a combination of the two), but thankfully, my senior colleague agreed on that course of action. I was delighted! Winston was coming with us! “Three….two….one…..” he said as he got his baton out and stood next to the front window. I must admit, I was slightly gutted I wasn’t the one to physically carry out the deed but I was still mentally holding the baton with my colleague! Smash! The glass shuttered all across the front seat and I carefully put my hand through to unlock the back door and get to Winston. Within a few seconds, Winston was attempting to lick my vest and hit me repeatedly with his unexpectedly strong tail. I should probably clarify at this stage that Winston is a gorgeous, black Staffordshire Bulldog. I found his leash amongst the dirty, smelly bedding and once I attached it to his collar, off we went!

En route back to the station, I felt somewhat like a celebrity; members of the public stopped and looked at us (admittedly, their attention was mainly drawn to Winston) acting like we were filming the next CSI episode. As if not being used to wearing the uniform and having people stare, wasn’t enough!

A few minutes later, we were back at Rotherhithe police station. I left Winston with my colleague for a few minutes in order to inform my sergeant that we had a guest with us. I walked up to him and said “Sarge, we brought someone back”. A look of relief appeared on his face as he replied “I’m glad someone picked Andy up; he had been waiting for ages”. That was the slightly awkward moment when I had to explain that said guest was a cute, hairy creature that looked nothing like Andy. Oh, and that Andy was still waiting to be picked up.

After liaising with the RSPCA, one of their inspectors arrived to check on Winston’s wellbeing. Once she confirmed he was healthy and well, she contacted his owner whose number was on Winston’s collar. He attended to collect him and received a one-off warning from the RSPCA which meant that if that happened again, Winston would be taken away from him. I was very sad to see Winston go and was equally sad to realise how long it would take me to remove his hair from my trousers!

A week later, while foot patrolling, I saw a familiar face (or two) walk towards me….it was Winston (and his not-so-happy dad)! They both instantly recognised me but, it is safe to say, they did not have the same reaction. Winston’s dad walked straight passed me as I wished him a good day, winked at Winston and carried on walking the streets of Rotherhithe.

That was the day we rescued Winston.