Dog Patrol Program
Two volunteers at the 'Dog Patrol Program' Image Credit: The Korea Herald

Guess who is guarding the streets of Seoul, the capital city of South Korea? An army of pet dogs along with their humans – all thanks to a unique initiative by the Seoul Metropolitan Government, called ‘dog patrol program’.

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As part of the initiative, the government appoints pet dogs and their humans, in pairs, to report any suspicious activities or safety risks that they come across in the city.

Seoul mayor, Oh Se-hoon, recently announced that the initiative has led to an increase in the number of pet owners in the city, over the past year, with more people wanting to combat crime.

Organised by the Seoul Metropolitan Government in May 2022, this initiative which began with just 64 grew to over 1,000 teams by the end of 2023.

Similar to the popular children’s cartoon ‘Paw Patrol’, where six brave puppies fight crime, the number of real-life ‘paw patrol’ teams currently stands at over 1,400.

But it’s not easy to become a ‘paw patrol’ officer. Dog owners and pets undergo a thorough screening process - followed by training on safety and precautions to be taken during patrols, for the owners.

The pet dogs, on the other hand, are tested for their ability to obey instructions and if they can remain calm in unexpected situations.

The entire process is overseen by a panel of four dog experts, after which two-thirds of the dogs pass the test.

After seeing that the ‘paw patrol’ initiative was successful in Seoul in 2023, an expansion was announced to other cities in South Korea like Incheon and Busan.

According to some Korean media reports, the teams had carried out over 48,000 patrol activities and reported more than 2,600 neighbourhood safety risks such as damaged facilities, and people who appeared to be intoxicated.

With their bright neon vests, the teams have a clear goal of reporting safety risks, suspicious activities, and more to the authorities while on their walks around the neighbourhood. Some dog owners also make sure to walk along with women returning home late at night, ensuring their safety.

While the effects of this initiative on crime rates has not been studied yet, citizens sure love and appreciate this initiative.