SAM the German shepherd dog has been given a police bravery award after he was nearly strangled while trying to detain a suspect in Nuneaton.

The nine-year-old police dog was on duty with partner PC Ian Head when a car drove past without any lights in September last year.

Suspecting the car was stolen, PC Head followed the car and brought it to a halt.

The driver, who appeared to be drunk, got out and ran off.

PC Head unleashed Sam, but the suspect climbed on to the roof of another car and began to kick out at Sam’s head.

The dog eventually managed to pull the man down off the car, but he fell on Sam, grabbing the dog’s collar.

The man twisted Sam’s collar until the dog was unconscious.

Using his baton, PC Head made the man release his grip but Sam remained unconscious on the floor.

Eventually he came round and helped the officer arrest the man, who was later successfully prosecuted for failure to provide a specimen and resisting arrest.

Sam was later given a clean bill of health by the vet.

His citation for Police Dog Action of the Year stated that Sam had been selected to receive the award for demonstrating “professionalism and determination” during the man’s arrest.

His award was given by Chief Inspector Adrian Knight, who is in charge of operations at Warwickshire Police.

And in a double honour, Sam was the inaugural winner of the Stan Shone Memorial shield, a new trophy awarded to the best-performing police dog in a competition to test their skills at obedience, agility and person and property search.

The award was presented by PC Mick Shone, and is named after his father who was one of the first police dog handlers at Warwickshire Police in the 60s.

Sam was one of a number of dogs honoured by the force.

A police spokeswoman said: “They are an indispensable part of the police family. Our dogs are trained to the highest standards and they thoroughly enjoy their work, forming a close working partnership with their handlers.

“Thankfully incidents such as this are rare.

“It is nice to be able to acknowledge the work of the dogs when they perform over and above what is expected of them.”