Sunday, June 23, 2024

New paw-trol graduate

Five new Police dog teams are ready for operational duties after graduating from the New Zealand Police Dog Training Centre in Trentham this week.

They’ll be working in Tāmaki Makaurau, Wellington and Tairāwhiti (Gisborne).

The new teams graduated in front of members of the Police executive, including Deputy Commissioner, Tania Kura and Minister of Customs, Meka Whaitiri.

National Coordinator: Police Dogs, Inspector Todd Southall congratulated the new teams, saying they’ll be welcome additions to frontline response as well as prevention and tactical policing.

Constable Bennett joined Police seven years ago and is looking forward to putting her new skills into practice with her 22-month-old canine partner, Wren.

“I’ve been lucky to foster Wren from a pup so we’ve gone through our dog section training together in our district and at the Dog Training Centre,” Constable Bennett said.

“Wren is full of beans, very energetic but also very loyal.  I’m grateful to all those who have supported us along the way and for the opportunity to put our training into practice.”

Constable Bennett will be one of six women officers currently working on Dog Section, five of them in district operational dog handler roles.

Fellow rookie handler, Wellington District’s Constable Jordan Clark, partnered with 17-month-old, Jago, is also pleased to qualify.

“It’s a steep learning curve and I’ve been helped out and well prepared by experienced colleagues in district.  The finals course challenges us as handlers and our dogs with lots of different scenarios.”

Constable Clark, a police officer for four years, has previously fostered three police dogs including Blue, who works in Wellington. He’s had Jago for nine months says he and can’t wait to start work.

Three very experienced handlers also qualified today with new dogs.

Senior Constable Owen Davies, Tāmaki Makaurau, has patrol dog, Worg, who is a brother of Constable Bennett’s dog, Wren. Worg has big paws to fill as Senior Constable’s previous dog is eight-year-old, Quid, and they’ve been a very effective operational and championship team.

Senior Constable Davies, a handler since 2007, and Quid have twice been runner up in the National Police Dog Championships. The pair enjoyed similar success in the 2016 Australasian championships in Melbourne.

“Experience helps in knowing how to read your dog, but you have to remember that a new dog is like a new recruit. They soak up experience, sometimes get side-tracked but always want to do what’s right.  We are in effect a new team learning to work together.”

It’s been a bitter-sweet course for Senior Constable Comrie Keenan from Tairāwhiti and his 11th dog, two-year-old Tahi. Constable Keenan’s previous dog, Harlo, died last week aged nine years old – the same day as an episode of the TV series Dog Squad screened featuring them both.

“Harlo battled ill health in the last few months while I was training up Tahi. They’re totally different dogs but it’s important to acknowledge Harlo and the work he did for me in the last two years, and previously for a Northland handler,” said Constable Keenan.

“He was old for a police dog, sore, a bit grumpy but he kept soldiering on and didn’t really get to enjoy retirement,” he said.

“Tahi is a different dog but I’m looking forward to working together.”

Constable Cam Mullenger, Wellington, is also graduating with 18-month-old, Fender, his third operational patrol dog. His previous dog was the photogenic, Manaia, who has featured in Police Dog Trust calendars.

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