This Remembrance Day we honour the veterans who gave up so much to fight for freedom but we should also stop for a moment to consider all the animals who serve alongside emergency services as well. Whether they are police dogs, RCMP horses, or the bomb-sniffing dogs, these animals help us stay safe and protect us from harm.
Police dogs have become important and integral members of many police forces around the world, including forces like the RCMP and the Vancouver Police. Police Dogs serve in a variety of jobs, including finding criminals or missing persons or locating evidence.
Police Dog Breeds
The RCMP only use German shepherds or Belgian Malinois for general police duties. The heavy coats of these two large dogs are practical for working in Canada’s harsh climate.
Since the RCMP standards are so high, only a few dogs make it through the intensive training program. Dogs are chosen for their health, their temperament and their trainability to best perform under intense, high-stress situations.
Horses are used in the police industry – especially in the RCMP – to help assist the police with traffic patrol, patrol parks and keeping the roads clear.
Police horses are also used to crowd control at events like hockey, football, and soccer matches. They were also an essential part during the Vancouver Stanley Cup riots, helping to subdue the crowd. The horses are trained to remain calm in noisy situations, making them an essential member of Canadian police forces.
Just like their human counterparts, dogs attend special intense classes to train them for their police work. Training includes instruction in a variety of different areas to help them with the difficult task of policing. The dogs learn about obedience, evidence recovery, article search, suspect search, tracking, scouting, criminal apprehension, bite work for prey and defense, tactical deployment, and agility in confidence courses.
Training may involve dog boarding to fully immerse the animal in the program. During the course, the canine will exist in a controlled environment to ensure the most effective learning. Part of the training involves placing dogs in chaotic and stressful situations to teach them how to respond correctly. Dogs also learn how to interact with other dogs so they don’t respond aggressively or even with too much friendliness.
Bomb Detector Dogs
If you’ve traveled through Vancouver Airport then you might have seen beagles sniffing around. The dogs need to be taught to smell along the seams of a suitcase or underneath a pallet where the smell is strongest.
Detector dogs start training by the age of 16 months and often live with their handler. To train them, there is a course laid out with smells from the basic chemical families of explosives such as powders, dynamite, TNT, and components of C4. Since it’s not a particularly physically demanding job, bomb dogs often work for 10 years or more. Retirement is usually with their handlers or in a handler-approved home.