About Victoria Police
Release date: Wed 2 May 2007
Last updated: Mon 21 December 2015
In an age of technology, none of the various physical devices have yet duplicated the natural instincts and abilities of a dog to track a human being or detect hidden persons or property.
The Dog Squad plays an important role in operational policing in Victoria. Dogs and handlers carry out specific tasks such as tracking offenders, or detecting explosives or narcotics. Dogs can often crawl or jump onto places where it would be impractical or impossible for police members to go.
Records show that even in the Middle Ages dogs were maintained by parish constables for the purpose of tracking down wrongdoers, but it is really only over the last 30 years that dogs have been used in substantial numbers by police forces around the world. It was decided that Victoria Police should form a Dog Squad in 1975.
Police dog handlers respond to complaints of intruders on premises, break and entering offences, sexual attacks, brawls, prowlers, lost persons and many armed or violent situations. The dogs are trained to specialise in one of three disciplines; general purpose, narcotics and explosives.
General purpose dogs
General purpose dogs are skilled in the areas of tracking, searching and protecting life and property. Handlers and their dogs often work from home within an allocated police district. The dogs used are male German Shepherds and Labradors as they are physically strong, are of a good size and often need to be aggressive. The greatest demand for dogs is at night when a dog's acute sense of smell is most needed. However, there is a 24-hour roster for general-purpose dog teams to ensure there is always at least one team on duty.
Narcotics detection dogs
Narcotics detection dogs search houses, cars or personal belongings. Female German Shepherds and Labradors are preferred for this type of work, as their smaller frame is more suited to work in confined spaces. Handlers and dogs predominantly work on an appointment basis for stations or specialised units requiring the expertise of a dog. Consequently, they can be called upon night or day.
Explosives detection dogs
Explosives detection dogs and handlers search for bombs and other explosive devices in buildings, cars or personal belongings and often work alongside the Special Operations Group (SOG) and bomb technicians. They also regularly visit schools and railway stations at night in the course of routine patrols. Female German Shepherds and Labradors are used.
The Dog Squad also provides operational support. It works with the SOG during siege situations or when searching for explosives, and utilises the Air Wing when they require transport in a time critical situation. However, most of their support is given to local operational police.
Victoria Police Dog Squad