Police dogs our valued partners

Police dogs our valued partners

Howard Broad, Police Commissioner

In this high-tech age it's somewhat surprising that dogs are still an integral part of policing.
 
The New Zealand Police Dog Unit was set up at Trentham in 1956. After more than 50 years, people have failed to invent anything that comes close to a dog's nose for detection and tracking, while the dogs' vigour and tenacity is legendary. When partnered with fit, street-smart officers, they make a formidable team.
 
We have two types of dog teams:

  • - patrol dogs - german shepherds, often first responders to critical incidents, used to track suspects or search for missing people, a response option for aggressive offenders.
  • - detector dogs - usually german shepherd or retriever breeds, trained to find drugs or explosives.

 
Our best teams pitted their skills at this week's National Police Dog Championships alongside teams from partner agencies Customs, Corrections and the Aviation Security Service. Star of the show was police dog Ila, who competed with stitches across her nose.
 
The risk of injury is always there for dogs as it is for police officers. When something goes wrong, the public response is invariably strong and supportive. It's a reminder of how much respect and admiration people have for these intelligent, hard-working animals.
 
Many supporters go a step further by fostering puppies and adopting dogs. All our patrol dogs are bred in Wellington but they are raised in homes throughout New Zealand. 
 
Once ready for duty, dogs live with their handlers so they are always available for call-outs. The dogs are more partners than pets, but they still become part of the family.
 
Patrol dogs generally work until they are 7-8 years old; detector dogs until 8-9 years. We
recognise every dog's service by making sure they have a happy retirement, living with their handler, a family friend or another police officer.