The petition started by Heike Fessel had garnered more than 12,000 signatures by Friday morning calling for Alsatian Sam and his handler Robert P. to be kept together.
“For three years, Sam and P. spent every minute together, whether at home, with family, on holiday or on joint deployments against crime in the capital,” Fessel wrote.
P. is due to be removed from front-line duty for a year after having spinal surgery. Sam was with him throughout his recovery and helped get him moving again.
But the police want to reassign the dog to another handler rather than letting the inseparable pair stay together.
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Pressure on the force has become so great over the case that they were forced to issue a statement.
“Service dogs are carefully selected and given expensive training,” it read.
“It's not unusual for dogs to be exchanged between handlers, it happens often and has never had a detrimental effects on the dogs,” they went on.
“We have to take care that the dogs don't become inactive for a long time, because then their performance can suffer.”
According to the statement, Sam is already well-integrated into another officer's family after being moved in January.
P. would have had the option of buying Sam from the force – but only if it was the dog who was retiring for reasons of old age or illness, not in this case, where he himself needs a break.
It remains to be seen whether that's enough to convince the petitioners, with 18 days left to join the campaign.
“For Sam and for Herr P. these are unbearable conditions,” Fessel wrote. “Like many dog owners, animal lovers and animal rights campaigners, I ask that P. gets his Sam back, for the good of animal and human, and above all to support P.'s healing process.”