The unit includes 63 trainers and 73 canines of six different breeds Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: The Dubai Police K9 Unit carried out 2,830 missions in 2021, including security checks, anti-drug operations and raids.

Major Salah Khalifa Al Mazrouei, director of Dubai Police Security Inspection K9 Unit, said the unit currently operates with 63 professional trainers and 73 canines of six different breeds, including German Shepherd, Dutch Shepherd, Malinois dog, English Springer, Labrador Retriever, and Cocker Spaniel.

How missions are distributed

“Missions and tasks are distributed among canines based on their specialities. German and Dutch Shepherds and Malinois dogs handle guarding duties, lead tracking and detection of all kinds as they are known for being more resilient. On the other hand, English Springer, Labrador Retriever, and Cocker Spaniel specialise in recovering hidden narcotics and explosives, uncovering dead bodies, searching for missing persons, and tracking possessions and flaming materials,” Maj Al Mazrouei added.

Recruitment and retirement

A specialised committee has been formed to run tests to handle canine recruitments based on their instincts capabilities to undertake policing missions and handle the workload. Canines join the Dubai Police team at 10 months or a year and half of age and continue to serve the force for seven more years,” the director said.

During their years of service, K9s undergo medical check-ups and performance tests to determine their capabilities to carry out police work. When Dubai Police veterinarians or canines’ trainers give reasons for necessary retirement, the dogs are placed for adoption under certain conditions.

“We get many applications from dog lovers among the public.”

The K9s undergo medical check-ups and performance tests to determine their health and capabilities Image Credit: Supplied

K9 missions

Captain Khalifa Al Suwaidi, head of Security Missions Section, said that K9s are a vital aspect of policing operations, including search and rescue missions, lead tracking, and guarding, among others.

“Each canine has its speciality based on its breed. There are ones that excel in tracking leads, others in searching for missing persons by their scent, others in uncovering dead bodies and body parts despite the time of death or the depth of their burial,” he added.

“Some canines are assigned for anti-narcotics missions to detect narcotics, psychotropic substances such as weeds, opium, marijuana, hallucinations drugs, amphetamine, heroin, and cocaine, etc. During the mission, K9s sniff out hidden drugs even if buried.

“We dispatched canines to determine if a fire breakout is to be considered an arson case by sniffing out gasoline, diesel, kerosene, etc.”

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COVID-19 sniffers

Major Al Mazrouei also pointed out the Dubai Police K9 Unit’s efforts in combating COVID-19. “K9 sniffer dogs have been stationed at airports across the country to help detect traces of the coronavirus from passenger sweat samples with 92 per cent accuracy,” Maj Al Mazrouei said.

“We have trained 38 canines, including German Shepherds, Labradors, Cocker Spaniels and Border Collies, to recognise the scent of COVID-19 using samples of sweat from people with confirmed infections, collected by holding a swab in an armpit for a few minutes.”

He pointed out that there is no direct contact between the canines and the passengers.

Captain Saud Sultan Al Suwaidi, Head of Technical Affairs and Training Department, attributed the success of the K9 Unit to lengthy training sessions that accumulated to 7,923 hours for both canines and their trainers over the last year.

Missions in numbers

• 1,321 security checks

• 542 COVID-19 screenings

• 480 guard duties

• 381 security patrols

• 53 anti-drug operations

• 30 leads tracking

• 20 raids

• 11 fire detections

• 879 special missions for securing Expo 2020 Dubai