Thursday, May 23, 2024
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HomePet NewsDog NewsCanterbury police dog handler Bruce Lamb dies on hunting trip with mates

Canterbury police dog handler Bruce Lamb dies on hunting trip with mates

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Police dog Gage and his handler Senior Constable Bruce Lamb, who died yesterday. Photo / Supplied

A decorated New Zealand police dog handler has died during a hunting trip with mates.

Senior Constable Bruce Lamb, one of New Zealand’s longest-serving dog handlers whose beloved police dog Gage once took a bullet from a gunman and saved his life, was hunting in the Ashburton Lakes area yesterday when he died suddenly.

Canterbury Police District Commander Corrie Parnell shared the “devastating news” with staff today.

“It is hard to put into words the depth of loss that individuals and teams will experience across all of NZ Police in response to this tragic news,” he said.

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“Bruce has been part of our Canterbury Police family for 45 years and was one of New Zealand Police’s longest-serving dog handlers. He was well known and well respected across the organisation and in the communities he served.

“Of course, this loss will be felt most deeply by his close-knit family, his friends and his dog section colleagues. Our love and prayers are with them.”

Lamb – a father of three, including two police officers – dedicated his life to policing, Parnell said, adding it was a “passion he shared with his family”.

“There are many things he will be remembered for – a real family man and a police officer through and through who got himself into more than his fair share of ‘hairy’ situations,” Parnell said.

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“We are in contact with Bruce’s family and are providing all the support we can as they come to terms with this tragic loss.

“Bruce was loved by many and this news will come as a shock, especially to those who worked closely with him.”

In 2013, Lamb became emotional when paying tribute to his dog Gage, who was posthumously awarded the UK’s highest honour for animal bravery.

“Without him, I simply wouldn’t be here,” Lamb told a gathering of his colleagues where Gage’s bravery and sacrifice was recognised with the PDSA Gold Medal.

At 11am on July 13, 2010 officers passing a house in the Christchurch suburb of Phillipstown noticed a strong smell of cannabis.

They went to the door and arrested a man there and called for back-up.

Lamb and Gage arrived and went inside where they found Christopher Graeme Smith, 35, inside a locked bedroom.

Smith coughed to disguise cocking his rifle before Lamb entered.

The gunman fired two shots, one narrowly missing Lamb’s head, the other smashing into his jaw. As he fell, Lamb called out to alert his colleagues.

Smith cocked his gun again and as he went to shoot Lamb again, Gage’s training kicked in and he jumped into the line of fire.

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“I can still feel Gage going over me. Without a doubt, his actions on the day saved my life,” Lamb said at the time.

Smith fired again and hit Constable Mitch Alatalo.

Lamb dragged Gage, still on his lead, outside the house. It wasn’t until he was outside that he realised Gage was dead.

Lamb drove himself to hospital and radioed police comms: “Delta One to Comms…I’ve got a gunshot wound to the head… can you tell my boss that my dog is dead please.”

Lamb remembered only a flash of the gun and seeing Smith point it at his head before Gage jumped over him and took the second shot.

The 6-year-old German shepherd was photographed lying dead in the middle of Buccleugh St in an unforgettable image.

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Smith was jailed for 14 years for the attempted murder of a police dog handler, wounding of another officer, and killing Gage.

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