30 Jul 2010

Siege cop speaks emotionally of bond with dog

9:15 pm on 30 July 2010

The police dog handler whose dog Gage was shot dead during an armed siege in Christchurch has spoken emotionally of his bond with the animal.

Senior Constable Bruce Lamb and Constable Mitch Alatalo were both shot when a routine incident went wrong two weeks ago.

Constable Lamb says he has taken Gage's death extremely hard, and does not know if he will return to frontline police dog handling.

"I was obviously very, very reluctant to leave the scene initially," he said with some emotion on Friday. "I will regret for a very long time leaving the dog in the middle of the road."

Constable Lamb says he had a special bond with Gage, who he believes saved his life by getting between him and the gunman.

"It's going to take a wee while to get over him," says the constable, whose colleagues have given him a new puppy to care for.

Most frightening day of their lives

Both constables say it was the most frightening day of their lives.

Constable Lamb says he believed he would die as he was being driven to hospital. He faces ongoing surgery to repair his jaw, which shattered in 15 places when a bullet went through the side of his face.

Constable Alatalo was shot through the thigh and is currently walking with the aid of a crutch.

They both plan to return to police duties, though Constable Lamb says he's not sure what his next role will be, as it may be difficult to return to the same role with another dog.

He says he has received more than a thousand cards and hundreds of emails from the public.