TWO police dogs and their handlers who were involved in incidents at Warrington  won awards at the annual Cheshire Police "Top Dogs" ceremony.
PC Mark Sheehan and Merlin (pictured) won the award for best tracking ability and PC Garry Brownlow and Brit won the award for the best performance at an individual incident.
Terry Savage, a member of Cheshire Police Authority who carries out routine welfare checks on police dogs, paid tribute to "the enormous variety of work" done by police dogs and their handlers, at the ceremony.
He said: "Dogs and their handlers play a vital role in policing, from making arrests and maintaining public order to tracking missing people and tracing drugs and explosives.
"The standards of training are impressive and, in every case, the dog and handler are a real team. However good the dog's natural instincts are, only patient training and a really good relationship between handler and dog brings the best results."
PC Sheehan and Merlin have consistently been successful in getting a positive result when tracking skills were required.
In the Warrington incident, they were called to assist after a fire-bombing incident.
Merlin tracked a man for 20 minutes through gardens and woods and recovered several items of clothing, including a jacket which smelled heavily of petrol. The dog eventually went into a garden, walked straight to a green wheelie bin and barked.
PC Sheehan found the offender hiding inside the bin. Merlin then recovered several other pieces of property which were vital to the prosecution of the offenders.
PC Brownlow and Brit assisted in a search for a man who was missing in the Warrngton area.
By very skilful tracking they found the man's body quickly and broke the news to his relatives who were also searching for him.
By their effective action they were able to prevent a great deal of added stress for the family at a very difficult time.
The award for the best overall team went to PC Greg Cross and Hunter, who tracked down three burglars after crossing the M6 motorway and through a water-filled tunnel.
Award for the best specialist dog team when to PC Brett Mankee and Sasha, who had been instrumental in recovering drugs worth thousands of pounds and ensure the dealers were taken to court.
The award for the most improved dog team went to PC Ian Burndred and Ozzy.