Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Once-abandoned dog becomes key element of canine unit

A once-abandoned dog is now a key member of a police unit in Mexico City.

Molly was tied to a post and abandoned when some officers from the Banking and Industrial Police (PBI) found her. They noticed her keen sense of smell and love for playing and decided to keep her.

The 1 1/2-year-old German shepherd now helps search for drugs on the city’s public transportation as part of the “Safe Passenger” security program.

The canine unit was created in 1997 and has 16 dogs specialized in search and rescue and detecting explosives or narcotics. They also accompany officers on patrols. The dogs serve the PBI for around eight years, after which they return to their trainers.

The head of the PBI canine unit, Samuel Baltasar, said that in order to train the dogs for service, instructors socialize them and use play to teach them a task.

Molly in action during a training session with Mexico City’s Banking and Industrial Police.

 

“First you have to start socializing dogs with people and other dogs. Then comes their obedience training. Once you have it, you work on the dog’s specialization. We start working with a ball or whatever the dog wants to play with. Once they become addicted, so to speak, to the toy, we begin to relate [the toy’s] smell to the one we want the dog to find, either an explosive or narcotic,” he said.

Baltasar added that it’s best if the dogs are trained as puppies, during their first four months. However, that wasn’t the case with Molly, who was an adult when she was found. Her trainers took her for walks to socialize her on the street.

“She was very afraid of cars,” Baltasar said. “She is still afraid of [firecrackers], and when there are a lot of people it changes her mood, but it is already minimal.”

He also explained how Molly and her companions indicate a suspicious passenger in public.

“Once a dog gets a scent, they change their behavior … once they’re sure, they stare [at the likely culprit] and sit down,” Baltasar added.

With reports from Milenio

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