Canine experts seek end to practice of using police dogs for VIP events

New Delhi: The practice of using combat canines for ceremonial drills like presenting flowers to greet VIPs should be stopped and they must only be utilised for specific tasks of catching suspects and sniffing contraband and IEDs, a panel comprising police dog experts has recommended.

The specialists have suggested that a separate “demo dog unit” could instead be raised for performing in jamborees to entertain the audience during the regimental functions of the police and the Central Armed Police Forces (CAPFs).

The panel of experts, drawn from various state and central police forces apart from the Army, made the recommendation during the last two national police K9 seminars, the last being held in February this year.

Police dog units are referred to as K9.

The experts, according to documents accessed and officials spoken to by PTI, stressed that trained canines are a very vital resource for security, intelligence and customs-related operations and making them sit on stools, presenting a flower bouquet and performing drills like ‘joker dog’, ‘plastic garbage collector dog’ and ‘circus dog show’ must be avoided and preferably stopped.

“With the police and CAPFs raising a large number of canine squads over the last decade or so, the practice of using them as show dogs crept in gradually. Some police organisation did it first and the others followed,” a senior police K9 officer said.

Conduct of drills for VIPs by these dogs is nothing wrong, in fact, it should be a part of their training and obedience course, but the operational and combat dogs should be spared and some reserve canines can be earmarked for such things, the officer said quoting the discussions of the conference.

Operational dogs are those which are trained in detecting improvised explosive devices (IEDs), sniffing narcotics, identifying suspicious persons, live victims of a disaster or guard duties for a police camp or sensitive installation.

A number of CAPFs like the CRPF, BSF, ITBP, SSB and CISF apart from state police forces have been using their combat dogs to greet the visiting guest or VIP with a bouquet or a ceremonial banner during special events like raising days or launch of a gala event.

The all-India conference also deliberated on training India’s first batch of cadaver dogs for disaster rescue forces like the NDRF and similar state forces so that they can sniff out those killed due to a man-made or natural disaster.

The Kerala Police has made a start in this domain, a K9 commander said.

Indian police organisations do not have cadaver dogs in their establishment as their focus, till now, has been to find out live victims during a disaster. However, it was felt that once people who are trapped and alive are rescued, the families of those who were killed will find a closure after they are handed over the mortal remains of their deceased loved ones, the commander quoted above said.

Cadaver dogs are trained to sniff the odour of rotting human flesh or a deceased person.