Police Dog (PD) Jet has hit the ground running in Cairns. Six months after graduating police dog training at the QPS Academy in Brisbane, PD Jet is doing his fair share of the work locating and apprehending offenders.
The Queensland Police Service (QPS) is fortunate to have its very own police dog breeding program.
When Jet’s handler Sergeant Dave Raymond first joined the Dog Squad in 1999, it was up to him to source his own police dog. This required putting calls out to the local area in search of anyone that maybe had a German Shepherd that was a little bit troublesome, digging holes, escaping and generally being a handful.
Sergeant Raymond said German Shepherds were the dog of choice because they had a proven ability to undertake the demands of police work.
“Both in Australia and overseas, German Shepherds were displaying good tracking abilities, agility and a strong sense of loyalty, and a good intimidating size,“ Sergeant Raymond said.
“The process of sourcing your own dogs seems very foreign to me now.”
“Since the QPS commenced its own breeding program we have seen some of the best police working dogs produced, not only in Australia but the world.
“The breeding stock comes from our top police dogs; this is important because the drives and traits required by our police dogs are bred naturally into our puppies,” Sergeant Raymond said.
Once the puppies are born, they are nurtured by one of the QPS puppy development officers until they are between three and six months old.
At that time the puppies are handed over to a specially trained foster dog handler. This handler is tasked with giving the puppy development exercises consistent with the traits required by a police dog. The foster dog handlers are overseen by experienced training staff and work with the pups until they are around 18 months old.
It is often a hard goodbye when the 18-month-old pups are then partnered with their new handler, ready for the 14-week dog squad course.
From that point, the training never really stops. Once the dog completes the 14-week course they become a fully fledged PD and hit the streets with their handler. In between operational jobs, the dog and handler will continue with training exercises. Every six months the PD and his handlers undertake an assessment to ensure they are maintaining standards.
When the time comes to farewell police dogs and send them into retirement, they often lead a life of luxury as they become their handlers’ family pets.
Sergeant Raymond said the dogs never lose their drive to work; retired Police Dog Axel is fond of letting out a long howl any time he hears a siren going past.