CHILDREN are encouraging people to stay at home and save lives by colouring in pictures of a retired police dog.

Lawford Primary School teachers have challenged their pupils to colour in pictures of Essex Police mascot Baloo, and put them in their windows to persuade others to stay at home and stay safe.

Baloo is a Belgian Malinois, who was a police dog forced into early retirement after she was hit by a car when responding to an incident involving a stolen vehicle.

Sadly her injuries meant she eventually had to have one of her legs amputated, meaning she could no longer serve on the frontline.

Abbie Fairbairn, Lawford Primary School’s headteacher, said: “This has been an unusual and challenging time for all of us at Lawford Primary, as I am sure it has been for many schools across Essex.

“But I cannot praise our teachers, staff, pupils and parents enough, for their dedication and hard work in making sure the children’s education continues as best as it can under the circumstances.

“I have no doubt that many of the children will be missing their friends and teachers, but we are learning to be resilient and the pictures of Baloo are a lovely reminder that we can overcome these challenges together because it is all about staying safe.”

An Essex Police spokesman said: “We would like to say a big thank you to all the teachers, staff and pupils at Lawford Primary School along with everyone else who has got involved and helped share Baloo’s message - stay home, save lives.”