The Ottawa Police Canine (K9) Unit currently has 14 working dogs in service. Each dog is thoroughly tested before being accepted into the program and is expected to perform at a high level each and every day they come to work.
Often police officers, as do members of the public, find themselves in harmful situations. Our service dogs provide an additional level of protection to our officers and the public when called upon to apprehend offenders. Our German Shepherds are trained for the most physically demanding tasks expected of a police dog:
The Ottawa Police also has several detector dogs in service. This specialized group, mostly Labs, are trained to detect items such as: controlled drugs and substances, firearms and ammunition, and explosives. Although it is not as physically demanding as the German Shepherds' tasks, detection is every bit as important for the safety of our community. Our detector dogs train in two courses which run approximately ten weeks, followed by weekly training to maintain their skills and proficiency levels.
We normally look at retiring our detector canines around the age of ten but it is a case-by-case evaluation. We will usually continue to work a Lab as long as they are physically able to do the job and since the tasks are not as physically demanding, Labs usually have a much longer working life than our German Shepherds.
Our canines provide support to all sections within the Ottawa Police Service. When they're not busy with day-to-day operations, the officers and their canine partners are often seen at community events, giving everyone a chance to see the dogs in action.
In 2014, 100 officers and their dogs from 35 different law enforcement agencies across Canada and the United States gathered in Ottawa from April 28 to May 1 to learn best practices and share experiences.
They were attending the annual Canadian Police Canine Association (CPCA) Spring Seminar. CPCA is a non-profit, non-partisan association that brings together police dog handlers and trainers from across North America, forming a network of people dedicated to the police dog.
The seminar wrapped up with Iron Dog Competition, which took place under hot and sunny skies on May 1 at Connaught Range in Kanata. The dogs and their handlers were put through a challenging obstacle course that traversed land and water.
Whether hoisting and an 80-pound dog over a fence, or trying to coax it into a hole partially filled with water, the obstacles simulated real-life situations.
You can probably guess who had more energy by the end of the course, the dogs or the handlers.
View the photo album for an inside look at the friendly competition! The Forces won bragging rights for coming out as the winners.