The Police Dog Unit has provided support service for the RNC and other law enforcement agencies since 1992.
Today, the RNC has four teams, each consisting of a dog and a handler.
The names of the current Police Service Dogs are Gunner, Edge, Biff and Dyson.
The Police Dog Unit provides canine support for search and rescue operations, tracking wanted persons, detecting narcotics, explosives, firearms, cadavers, and physical evidence. Police Dog also plays a vital role within the RNC Public Order Unit (POU).
The teams are also involved in community service work and public demonstrations.
Canine teams undergo an intensive four month training course at the Police Dog Service Training Centre in Innisfail, Alberta. This course includes promoting obedience and exposing the dogs to obstacles such as stairways, heights, and water, with a major emphasis on tracking. Training the dogs to follow specific human scents over various terrains in all weather conditions requires commitment, focus and patience. The dogs are taught to protect the handler on command even in the face of gunfire.
One team is specifically trained for explosives. This required an additional three weeks of training to be completed on site at an airport in Alberta.
Careful consideration is given to the selection of both the dog and handler. German Shepherds, aged 13-18 months, are chosen for service duties. This breed is renowned for its keen sense of hearing and smell, its even temperament, stability, alertness and for its dependability in various weather conditions. The dogs usually have a work life of eight years.
Handlers must be in top physical condition in order to keep pace with the dogs.
Each dog lives in the handler’s home and stays in an outside kennel provided by the RNC. This develops a proper heavy undercoat that will protect the dog during cold weather assignments.
Teams use a specially designed vehicle to provide proper security for the dog and adequate storage for equipment the handler requires.
The RNC Police Dog teams are on call 24 hours a day and available for assignment anywhere in the province.