© Manchester Evening News
PC Phil Healy with Mojo the dog
The first police dog on the scene at the Manchester Arena terrorist attack has been left mentally scarred by what he witnessed, his handler has revealed.

PC Phil Healy said his dog Mojo developed stress-related alopecia after the bombing and admitted his sidekick hasn't returned his normal self.

The pair were some of the first at the scene arriving minutes after the explosion, and were tasked with searching the vast building for more bombs.

Both Mojo and handler Phil have now both returned to the scene of the horrific terror attack on several occasions, including for the re-opening We Are Manchester benefit gig, where they were both again on duty.

The attack after the Ariana Grande concert claimed the lives of 22 people including four from the North East.

Teenage sweethearts Liam Curry, 19, and Chloe Rutherford, 17, from South Shields tragically lost their lives along with Courtney Boyle, 19, and her stepdad Philip Tron, 32, from Gateshead .

"Mojo has been a great dog for me over the years and he is very much part of the family," PC Healy told the Mirror Online.

"On the night of the arena attack, it was such a long, long day - he did 11 hours of searching there.

"About a week afterwards, Mojo developed stress-related alopecia. His hair started falling out and we are sure it was brought on by that night.

"Fortunately, it's starting to grow back now. There are still some patches but hopefully he will be back to his fluffy pom-pom self again soon.

"After the incident, we gave him a lot of down time, increased his food intake and gave him special energy pouches of food when he needed to get back to work.

"We have noticed that he's still not quite back to his usual self.

"The dogs pick up on how we feel. Regardless of how much training you do, you are never equipped to walk into what we walked into that night. You could see it in his face, he didn't want to be there. Nobody did, but we had a job to do.

"We had been back to the arena a few times before Saturday's reopening. Mojo was quite happy to get on with things, he's still happy to work but he works for me now rather than doing it because he enjoys it. He's almost back to his usual self; about 90% I'd say.

"We've got a job to do, so we get on with it. We will not be beaten."

He told the Manchester Evening News soon after the attack that he will always remember the look on his dog's face as they approached the horrifying scene on May 22.

He said: "It did affect him, you could see it in his face, at one point he kind of looked back at you to say, 'are we really doing this, dad?' and it was like 'unfortunately son, yes we are.'"

Phil, 46, added it was strange to go back to work at the arena last week.

He said: "It is strange coming back knowing everything that has gone on.

"I think the hardest part was seeing the faces of those who have come back for the first time. I have been here a few times now. We had to carry out searches so it doesn't seem as new to me now - but it's those people who have come for the first time.

"A couple of families came over and spoke to me. You could see - they had young children in their early teens - they had tears in their eyes.

"But it's their first time back and it does upset you. In the back of your mind I was thinking 'do I really want to be here?'"

He said officers were given the choice of whether they wanted to return to duty at the arena for the concert on Saturday night.

Phil explained: "Certain officers didn't have to come if they didn't want to. But then again, it's my job. I have to carry on. You have to go forward, and be here.

"There have been ups and downs and there are days it has come back and haunted me. But slowly but surely I'm getting over everything that has happened. The job has made sure we have had counselling and that's still ongoing.

"I want to stay in the job of course. It means then I can help more people.

"Being here is proving that we won't be beaten. We can carry on and people are coming in their thousands [to the gig] to prove they can carry on."