The abilities of New Zealand Police patrol and detector dogs along with those from partner agencies will be put to the test next week in the annual national championships.
Top dog titles will be keenly contested by the 23 dog teams competing in three separate categories with the national finalists selected from earlier Police district and agency trials.
Twelve Police patrol dogs and handlers from Whangarei to Invercargill will be put through a series of challenging obedience disciplines, heelwork, tracking, criminal work and building searches.
Six narcotic detector dog teams – two from Police (Auckland and Hawke’s Bay), two from the Department of Corrections (Central and Auckland) and two from NZ Customs (Auckland and Christchurch) face similar tests in their category.
Five explosives detector dog teams – one from Police (Wellington), two from the Aviation Security Service (Auckland and Queenstown) and two from the New Zealand Defence Force (NZ Army) compete in the third category.
Inspector Todd Southall, National Coordinator: Police Dogs, says the national championships are a highlight of the year and designed to bring out the best of handlers and their dogs.
“All the tasks and test activities are based on the real-life skills decisions that handlers and their dogs must make when they are responding day and night to a variety of incidents.
“Dog teams do a fantastic job in helping keep our communities safe.
They provide a critical frontline response, detection and prevention capability.
“It’s really exciting to see that this year for many of the finalists it’s their first time at the national championships.
The blend of youth and experience bodes well for the ongoing development of dog section capability across all services.”
Sibling rivalry might also be at stake – four of the Police patrol dogs are from the ‘M’ litter.
Four-year-old brothers Mario, Murk and Moose are joined by their sister Mist, whose handler is Constable Elyse Lewis from Northland.
Those competing are:
Patrol Dog Handlers/Dogs:
Sen Const Shane Durston and Luke (Palmerston North), Const Elyse Lewis and Mist (Whangarei), Const James Seales and Vito (Whakatane), Sen Const Mark Chapman and Mario (Tauranga), Const Aaron Senior and Nour (Blenheim), Const Andrew Lillie and Kase (Canterbury), Sen Const Owen Davies and Quid (Auckland), Const Vaja Spiric and Bear (Auckland), Const Ben Whitley and Murk (Gisborne), Const Stu Rota and Dakota (Wellington), Const Marc Lock and Moose (Wellington) and Const Lachlan MacDonald and Gee (Invercargill).
Corrections Dog Handler Maurice O’Connor and Radar, Corrections Dog Handler Matt Feterika and Aussie, Senior Const Chris Harris and Floyd (Auckland Police), Sen Const Grant Diver and Saru (Hawke’s Bay Police), Customs Officer Kofe Koko and Yarra and Customs Officer Dan Evans and Flo.
Sen Const Hamish Todd and Ezak (Wellington Police), Aviation Security Officer Deborah Curry and Nitro, Aviation Security Officer Andrew Buchanan and Toby, LPCL Leslie Tawhara and Iris (NZDF), and SPR Maylin Broderick and Bok (NZDF).
The championships, which run from Monday 10 September to Wednesday 12 September, takes place at the New Zealand Police Dog Training Centre in Trentham and at undisclosed locations in the Upper Hutt area.