A Police and Crime Commissioner who has announced a £1,500 pension plan for police dogs has defended the scheme, saying it has been developed in recognition of their hard work and to aid their handlers.
Paddy Tipping said the dogs work hard and are officers "in their own right."
He argued the proposals to create the fund for Nottinghamshire Police dogs were developed because he was "concerned to learn" officers were having to pick up the dog's costs when they had retired from the force.
"We give pensions to police officers and we look after (them) when they retire," he said.
"The dogs have worked hard all their lives and we should make some provision for them as well."
Around six police dogs retire every year, he said, and generally the handler who has worked with them takes them home to live out the rest of their lives, footing the cost of food and medical bills in the process.
But the plans, which were announced yesterday and will be rolled out next month, have been met with criticism from campaigners who have blasted the £39,000 scheme for being implemented during a time of
Taxpayers Alliance political director Jonathan Isaby said: "Most Nottinghamshire taxpayers will want to see their Police and Crime Commissioner put in the doghouse after coming up with this proposal, which can only be described as barking mad," the Daily Express reported.
Asked what he made of such comments, Mr Tipping said: "I don't know what the criticism is.
"I guess the criticism is, 'well hang on a minute, we should spend the money elsewhere'. Well, you've got to make judgments about priorities."
The dogs' pensions will not automatically be handed over to their handlers on the dog's retirement, he said, but would only be pooled out in the event that they incurred any vet's bills and the police officer could claim the cash back.
Mr Tipping said: "We give pensions to police officers, we look after the police officers when they retire; the dogs have worked hard all their lives, worked hard for the police. We should make some provision for them as well."
He went on: "Let's be clear about it, if the officers didn't look after the dogs when they retire from the force they would be put down.
"The police officers have become very fond of the dogs, they keep the dogs, and I don't think it's fair that they have to pay all the bills."
Mr Tipping said that the dogs are important to all police forces, not just Nottinghamshire, because they can work in sniffing out drugs, or searching out fatalities, in crowd control, and detaining suspects, as well as in other roles.
He added: "Meg is one dog who is about to retire, but generally six dogs are retiring a year, so just like police officers we've got a profile of when they're going to retire. "