A date with Dog Squad team

Dogs are not only man’s best friend but they also very good detectives. Many of the dogs are used in police to detect explosives, find a culprit or even to find narcotics. There are 53 dogs at work with the Delhi Police alone. The newly established Metro Rail in Delhi is also guarded by two dogs named Tanuja and Shobha. These two dogs travel in the Metro every morning and evening, searching for any kind of explosives, thus making it safe for the commuters and protecting the Metro Rail as well. Such dogs are trained at Border Security Force Training Schools. ‘Dogs & Pups’ editor Ms Shweta Khurana attended one such training at Model Town Police Station. Excerpts.

It was a great day, a day to learn a lot and to share a lot. I joined Dr. Vaishali who is a practicing vet in Chanakyapuri, and a doctor who is on the panel for the Delhi Police Dog Squad team. Having already taken inputs and permission from Mr. GS Awana, ACP, Delhi Police, Crime Branch (R Cell), we headed for Model Town Police Station to meet Mr. Digvijay Singh and the team of handlers who are directly involved in handling the Delhi Police- Dog Squad Team. What we saw there was lot of hardwork, dedication and focus by man’s best friend.

We first met the team and asked them various questions and then we saw the dogs themselves in action. Whatever we had heard and thought we were prepared for, left us completely speechless when we saw the Dogs in action. The dogs were just brilliant, and secretly we thought they knew it too!! Their gait, supreme authority and confidence just said it all.

We found out that the Dog Squad at Delhi Police, Crime Branch, had three categories of dogs, trained for a specific purpose :

  • Explosive dogs
  • Tracking dogs
  • Narcotics dogs

Explosive dogs are trained for sniffing out any kind of explosives. Before a VIP reaches a particular function, these dogs sniff out the venue for any explosives. The VIP only reaches a venue when a report is generated which declares the venue safe by the Dog Squad team. These dogs are also sent to areas where a bomb is suspected. Tracking dogs help in detection of culprits who are involved in crimes related to theft and murder. And as the name suggests, the narcotics dogs help in identifying drugs.

The breeds used for the above are Labrador, Doberman Pinscher and German Shepard because these breeds have very high power scent sense. Mr. Digvijay Singh informed, “The smelling power of dogs is 36,000 times more than humans, which helps in easy detection. The dogs are thus trained to identify and recognise a particular smell. For example, an explosive dog would be able to detect the various kinds of explosives he/she has been trained to find and would not be able to look for narcotics and vice versa. A tracking dog will only be able to identify humans. A dog is given training for a particular category only”.  On a humorous note, Mr. Digvijay tells us that all the dogs are named after famous personalities, with a soft corner towards all the film actresses.

Mr. Digvijay further informed us that the training for dogs is given at the Border Security Force Training Schools. “The specialised training starts at the age of 6 months after the pup has been given basic training. The training duration for explosives and narcotics is 6 months each while training for tracking is for 9 months,” he added. These dogs are then sent to the various police stations in Delhi, which have Dog Squads. Some of them include police stations at Mandir Marg, Model Town, Chanakyapuri, RK Puram, Peetampura, Shahadra, etc.
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At the Dog Squads, the dogs are then assigned to the various handlers and have a busy schedule with them, starting early in the morning. The schedule includes training, grooming, and taking care of the dogs. From 7 am to 8.30 am, they undergo a morning parade and training for their various specializations. The dogs are groomed everyday from 8.30 am to 9 am. The handlers take pride in taking care of their dogs and ensure they are properly maintained. The Dogs look forward to the clock striking 9.30 as that is their food time –the excitement at that time holds no bounds. Each dog is given its own dish and is fed on full cream, porridge, eggs, rice etc. After 10 am, while the dogs rest – the handlers are given training on how to work with canine friends under various circumstances, how to take care of dog etc. From 3 pm- 4pm the dogs are taken for a walk, followed by daily parade from 4 pm- 5 pm which includes running, jumping and training. And this is not all, they are then taken for a walk in the evening and finally, dinner and rest. The dogs can be called for duty calls any time. As soon as they get a call to clear a venue, to find an explosive or drug, or to catch a person who has committed a crime, then they are totally focused in finding what they have been trained for and are completely at work.

We were also given a live demo of the various skills that these dogs were trained for. What we saw after the talk was just amazing. The dogs- Don, Dolly and Tun Tun waltzed through an agility setup which included a circular loop, hurdles of various sizes. The dog alongwith the handler stood at the starting point and when commanded by his handler, he/she would sprint and make the whole exercise look so easy, leaving us in a complete awe. lucky patcher ios The next exercise was tracking. Anu, a Doberman on duty, was made to wear a green belt by which she realized it is work time now. She was made to sniff our hands and then we were supposed to touch a handkerchief. This handkerchief was then mixed with other kerchiefs and kept in a row. Anu, on getting her command, went straight for the kerchiefs and proudly picked the ones that we had touched and gave it to her handler.

She thrived on positive reinforcement by the handler.
This was followed by two more exercises, one for explosives and the other for narcotics. In both the cases, the dogs were first made to wear a green belt. After which they were given their commands. They knew respectively that they had to look for explosives and drugs. With the objective clear in their mind, they sniffed out the objects. On finding the object, they sat and barked, signalling to the handler they had found the object. The dogs were then fed in front of us and we could hear excited barks as food was eagerly awaited.

The handlers informed us that a lot of hard work is done by the dogs and them. They also informed us of an escapade in Noida where a bank was robbed of 81 lakhs and the thieves had left an article. The dogs were made to sniff that and when the Noida police caught various suspects, the dogs were able to identify by smell the person to whom the article belonged. Another interesting case was of Naina, the Labrador, who was able to locate 21 kgs of gelatin sticks at the New Delhi Railway Station.

We were amazed to see a complete synergy between man and the canine friend. A complete team effort!!! Thanking the Dog Squad for enabling us to cover this article, we left satisfied and well informed.
(Inputs from Mr. GS Awana, ACP, Delhi Police, Crime Branch (R Cell); Mr. Digvijay Singh from Dog Squad, Model Town, Police Station and the team members.)

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