Beware, police dogs in training

NANAIMO – Police K-9 units and businesses team up for training and security.

Police dogs might prove to be Nanaimo business owners’ best friends thanks to a new dog training program being promoted by the RCMP.

The program, unleashed Wednesday at Supreme Self-Storage in south Nanaimo, allows police to train their dogs on commercial properties with permission of the business owners.

RCMP K-9 units receive needed training in urban and industrial environments and in return businesses get the added security of having police on site during training.

Businesses also get a new kind of ‘beware of dog’ sign to post on entrances that reads in bold letters, “Caution. Premise used for police dog training during, as well as after, regular hours.”

Jim MacDonald, manager of Supreme Self-Storage, invited the Mounties in after break-and-enter artists cut through the fence of the storage facility compound in spite of the fact that he and his wife,  Joy, live on the premises, and the security system includes 14 cameras and brilliant yard lights illuminating the entire compound.

“They were hiding behind motorhomes, so we took away the hiding place,” MacDonald said. “Rats don’t like to come out into the centre. They stay close and hug the wall.”

There is about one hectare of land within the compound that is used for outdoor storage of vehicles, boats and other items.

The K-9 unit has been using the site for about one year. They are free to use the facility any time, but usually do their training at night or in the early morning hours.

“They’ll hide somebody in one of the vacant lockers and the dog will track them,” MacDonald said. “Of course the guy’s all dressed up in the anti-bite outfit. [The dog] can launch himself from 20 feet away. It’s pretty impressive. I wouldn’t want to be on the receiving end of any police dog.”

But the dogs and the operations are quiet, MacDonald said, and people don’t even realize they’re present during training on the site.

“I think it’s great for everybody in this business if they can use the K-9 squad for practice,” MacDonald said.

Police dogs and handlers train continuously and look for new environments to expose their dogs to, which helps the animals become proficient at finding contraband and taking down criminals.

“This is another way of forming partnerships within our community and giving credit to those who support the training of our police dogs,” said Const. Gary O’Brien, Nanaimo RCMP spokesman.

 

O’Brien the program was also carried out in Campbell River, where it got a good reception from the public and the dog handlers, but was unaware of it being tried elsewhere.

“We already had someone call in [Thursday] inquiring about the program,” O’Brien said.

Business operators interested in getting involved in this program are asked to call Const. Clay Wurzinger of the Nanaimo RCMP Police Dog Services at 250-754-2345.