This is the 50th year the National Championship Police and Detector Dog Trials have been held at the Dog Training Centre in Trentham, however only the detector dogs were presented with trophies this year.
The extreme winds in Wellington proved to be a challenge to travellers and no flights for 48 hours into Wellington from Sunday meant that competitors and judges were grounded, leaving a third of the patrol dog teams unable to get to the capital to compete in the trials.
Inspector Todd Southall, National Coordinator: Police Dogs says, “What a shame the wind in Wellington has stymied the ability for the patrol dogs to compete.
"Too many patrol dog competitors and judges were stuck in other parts of the country. But the show went on and we were lucky enough to have the opportunity to witness and test the detector dogs from Police, Aviation Security (AVSEC), Department of Corrections, New Zealand Customs Service and New Zealand Defence Force.”
Winner of the Alan Symes Cup for Narcotic Detector Dogs was last year’s second-place winning team Senior Constable Patrick Derbyshire and two-year operational Labrador, Ripper from Northland.
Patrick and Ripper were up against some good competition with Auckland Senior Constable Lauris Shepherd and Arc plus Corrections teams, Hannah McEwan with Willis, and John Penney with Baz.
Coming in second place for the Alan Symes Cup was Senior Customs Officer Clare Kirk and Kale from Auckland who were competing against another Customs team, Hannah Bailey and Thor from Canterbury.
Although it was Clare and Kale’s first time at Nationals they’ve been operational for six-and-a-half years. Clare calls Kale, the ‘George Clooney of Customs, handsome, mature and a little grey’. “We are very proud to get placed second,” she says.
Winner of the AVSEC Shield for Explosive Detector Dogs was Aviation Security Officer Sarah McHardy with Mindy from Christchurch. Mindy is a mixed-breed SPCA special who’s proven herself a winner. “She’s very relaxed at home, but when she’s got the harness on, she knows it’s time to work. It’s been an excellent learning curve and we’ve enjoyed taking part.”
Coming second for the AVSEC Shield was Sapper Ian Hunt with Flicka from New Zealand Army’s 2 Field Squadron. Ian and Flicka recently trained with the Australian Explosive Detector Dog (EDD) handlers and says, “It was a pleasure to take part in the Nationals and I’m honoured to be placed.”
Sarah and Mindy and Ian and Flicka were up against two very experienced Police dog teams - Senior Constable Reuben Whalley and Wolfe from Christchurch and Senior Constable Hamish Todd and Ezac from Wellington, who between them have excelled at many National competitions over the years.
Todd Southall says, “It’s been a demanding few days for all the handlers, most of whom were competing at Nationals for the first time. The tasks they’ve faced under the scrutiny of judges while replicating their day-to-day variety of operational work is not easy.
“All the test activities are based on real-life decisions which handlers and their dogs must make when they are responding to incidents at any time of the day and night.
“Dog teams do an amazing job in helping keep our communities safe. They provide a critical frontline response for police in regard to detection and prevention – we can’t do without them."
Issued by Police Media Centre