A RETIRED rescue turned sniffer dog who has tracked down thousands of pounds worth of drugs and cash in Gloucestershire has been named among the best at Crufts. 

Nine-year-old Stella, who has been described as ‘inspirational’ and ‘special’ was announced as the winner of the Hero Dog Award competition at Crufts yesterday (March 12). 

Despite her sad start to life, as an RSPCA rescue dog, Stella overcame the odds to become the first Staffordshire Bull Terrier police dog in the UK in 2014.  

Stella has also found weapons in her eight-year career with Gloucestershire Police, alongside her owner and handler PC Claire Todd, making her a true canine hero.

Speaking about Stella’s award, Claire said she was ‘over the moon’. 

“It is just incredible, I’m speechless,” she said. 

“Really it is amazing and we are so grateful for everyone that has voted. All the dogs are such worthy winners so we are over the moon!

Gazette Series: Claire and Crufts dog hero winner Stella Claire and Crufts dog hero winner Stella (Image: PA Wire, Jonathan Brady)

“Stella is so special because she is a rescue dog and also the first Staffordshire Bull Terrier in the country to be a police dog and she has been worth her weight in gold to me. 

“It’s brilliant the work police dogs do, they don’t realise how important their job is but to us it is invaluable. 

“The police dogs are incredible and do such an incredible job! I was holding back the tears, I didn’t expect to win!”

Stella was one of five finalists shortlisted for Hero Dog Award competition.  


The award this year also honoured dogs involved with the search and rescue mission from K9 Search & Rescue NI and UK ISAR in Turkey and Syria after the horrific earthquake.

Vanessa McAlpine, Crufts show manager, said: “Many congratulations to Stella and Claire on winning this year’s Hero Dog Award. 

“Their story is truly inspirational and they are so deserving of this award. 

“All the finalists perfectly demonstrated not only the incredible bond they share, but also the positive impact dogs have on all our lives. 

"All the dogs and owners have transformed each other's lives for the better and we thank them all for sharing their stories with us. They are all heroes.” 

The Kennel Club is now calling for the public to nominate their unsung canine heroes who deserve to be recognised for what they do for The Kennel Club Hero Dog Award 2024.

Nominations for four-legged heroes can be made at crufts.org.uk/herodogaward