Saturday, April 13, 2024

Siblings star in service dog graduation

New Zealand communities and borders became a little bit more secure this month with the graduation of 13 Police and Customs dog teams.

Seven police patrol dog and two detector dog teams, and four Customs teams, graduated from the Dog Training Centre (DTC) at Trentham in the last – and biggest – graduation of 2020.

Five of the new patrol dog handlers are first-timers, and in the spirit of keeping it in the family, three of their dogs are siblings from the ‘F’ litter born at Trentham in January 2019 – welcome Frankie, Fi and Faze.

Two of the teams will be based in Nelson, and one each in Christchurch, Wellington, Palmerston North, Hawke’s Bay and Auckland.

Two experienced Police handlers from Northland and Bay of Plenty districts graduated with their first detector dogs.

The four Customs handlers are new handlers. Two will work in Auckland and two in Christchurch.

Inspector Todd Southall, National Coordinator Police Dogs, congratulated all the handlers on their success, but says graduation is always extra special for first-timers.

“It takes patience and perseverance to get through the training programme, both in their districts and at the training centre,” said Insp Southall.

“They’ve worked hard to obtain this operational qualification, and they’ll keep learning and developing with experience, time on the street and taking part in further specialist courses.”

The graduation brought down the curtain on a busy and challenging year at the DTC.

During 2020, the centre has graduated 40 dog teams, comprising 23 patrol teams; six AOS, seven narcotics, cash and firearms; and four Search and Rescue.

It has also bred 107 pups – 92 German Shepherds and 15 Labradors – which is a record and reflects the increase in demand, says Todd.

“It has been a very busy year for the DTC and dog section,” Insp Southall said.

“Over COVID business did not stop for us. We had to change some courses and ran a graduation in Auckland because those handlers could not travel.

“Our team has done a fantastic job in managing the COVID year but still keeping the business going.”

COVID presented particular challenges for the Pacific Detector Dog Programme because of the inability to travel, but initiatives included running a successful course in Fiji using WebEx remote networking and video.

There are plans for a course in New Zealand next year, with handlers from four Pacific countries attending, and for a new patrol dog programme in Fiji.

“There is high demand for new dogs and teams across the Pacific, so a lot of planning is under way to how we manage this going into 2021.”

“In the meantime, best wishes to all our new teams as they begin their operational lives together.”

Who’s who from the final graduation

Patrol dog teams…

  • Sergeant Craig Moore (Nelson – head of Tasman Dog Section) and Lokkie
  • Senior Constable Dave Templeton and Costa (Auckland)
  • Senior Constable Jared Booth and Fi (Hawke’s Bay)
  • Constable Alex Baddock and Zappa (Palmerston North)
  • Constable Cain Falconer and Kong (Wellington)
  • Constable Dan Waluszewski and Faze (Nelson)
  • Constable Simi Volavola and Frankie (Christchurch)

The new detector dog teams…

  • Sergeant Bruce McLeod and Ripper (Northland)
  • Senior Constable Dave Robison and Villa (Whakatāne)

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