Police dogs delight South Otago school children
There's an old saying: Never work with children and animals.
Officers from the New Zealand Police Dog Section regularly break those rules, by taking their four-legged partners in crime-fighting on school visits, to the delight of pupils, and as an integral part of dogs' socialisation and training.
The Dunedin dog section visited two South Otago schools recently, Stirling and Clutha Valley, where police constables Tim Roy and Regan Mauheni showed off their clever canines, Brock and Vann, describing their training and what police dogs do.
Roy is originally from South Otago, and Mauheni was one of four armed offenders squad members injured during the 22-hour siege involving shooter Rhys Warren near Kawerau in March last year.
Police dogs respond to more than 30,000 incidents each year in New Zealand. All police dog handlers are officers with about five years' policing experience behind them before they join the dog unit.
All police dogs are trained at the Police Dog Training Centre at Trentham, Upper Hutt, near Wellington.
The training of a patrol dog is based on a six-stage development and qualification process that starts when the dogs are puppies and ends when they graduate at 18 months of age.
Dogs live at home with their handlers.
The quality of the training provided by the dog training centre is recognised abroad as well as in New Zealand.
Help has been provided to set up dog sections in several Australian states and training has been given to several Pacific countries.
More than 80 per cent of a patrol dog's work is in tracking for search and rescue, often over long distances. They are also used in armed offender squads, and for victim recovery and narcotic detection work.
Police work together with partner agencies to train detector dogs at the training centre for the Department of Corrections, Aviation Security Service and the New Zealand Defence Force.
The Police Dog Trust New Zealand supports the work of the dog section by funding activities such as acquiring breeding dogs from overseas to improve the New Zealand bloodlines and acquiring working dogs. It also trains dogs and handlers and promotes study, research and educational programmes to support these activities.