By Wendy Elliott
Kings RCMP Const. Nick MacLean is breaking in a special German Shepherd pup named Elita.
She was born in September at the RCMP Police Dog Service Training Centre (PDSTC) in Innisfail, Alberta.
MacLean has been interested in the dog section for some time. He says his interest goes back to childhood. For several years, he volunteered during his days off as the ‘bad guy’ to assist a dog trainer.
Potentially, MacLean will have Elita as a pet for a year. She will be tested at four, eight and 12 months for eligibility. During his off time, he takes her to places with crowds of people, like the airport, and where there are other animals.
“Not every dog is selected for the program,” he said. “They have to know how to work and play.”
Those who aren’t earmarked are sold as family pets or for search and rescue duties. Generally, police service dogs are trained in tracking and aggression. MacLean is hoping to become a handler.
This province has seven dog handlers.
“It’s one of the smallest sections in the force,” MacLean noted. Mainland British Columbia has the highest number.
Children across the country submitted potential puppy names starting with ‘E’ this year. In a PDSTC release, Cpl. Scott Chapman said youthful participants took into account names for working police dogs and submitted names that ”very much reflect the work and service the dogs provide to Canadians.”
RCMP police service dogs are an integral part of front-line policing. They track and apprehend criminals, remove illicit drugs from the streets, search and recover articles as well as people
The national training centre in Alberta sets up all the RCMP police dog teams. Currently, there are 131 full profile German Shepherd Police Dog Teams and 24 specialty dog teams that detect narcotics or explosives. Eighty per cent of the German Shepherds working as RCMP Service Dogs are from the breeding program.