Const. Eric Lequesne and his partner, Diesel, love police work and the special relationship they have as members of the K9 Unit. Tim Collins/Victoria News

K9 Unit the best job in the world: VicPD handler

New dogs from Germany join the local force

New team members are joining the Victoria Police Department following a recruitment process that reached out all the way to Germany to find perfect candidates.

The three new officers are, in fact, recruits for the force’s K-9 corps.

“We have three new German shepherds that we’ve just received through a broker in Sacramento with contacts to the breeding facilities in Germany,” explained Const. Eric Lequesne, one of the K9 Unit dog handlers. “These are dogs with bloodlines that go back to generations of working dogs; the best dogs available anywhere.”

The dogs are exhaustively vetted, first in Europe and then upon their arrival in Canada.

“We look at whether they are environmentally suited for the job, and are capable of handling things like slick floors and metal stairways,” Lequesne said. “We also check on their drive to work (some dogs, believe it or not, are lazy), and whether they are sociable enough for the job.

The human members of the pairings are similarly screened in an application process that looks at the officers’ physical fitness, their qualifications, service history and experience with animals.

“We make sure we select officers that can be matched to the temperament and energy of the dogs who will become their constant companions and working partners. The dogs will live with that officer, so it’s important that the officer’s living situation allows for that sort of arrangement,” Lequesne said.

The new dogs, like their fellow canine officers already on the force, will undergo a rigorous course of training to qualify them for tasks that range from finding evidence, detecting drugs or firearms, searching crime scenes for suspects, and apprehending those suspects on command.

They will join the four German shepherds and three chocolate Labradors already in the K9 Unit, a complement that allows for a dog to be available for duty every evening and most days.

The unit’s Labs are generally used for the detection of drugs and explosives, while the German shepherds are more general duty dogs used for searches and the apprehension of criminals.

Sgt. Mike Chicorelli, the K9 Unit’s principle trainer, described how the dogs are prepared to go to work.

“The techniques have really gotten so much better since we got our first dog in 1984. There are a variety of techniques, but basically the dogs are trained to perform a specific job, and when they do it right, the reward they are given involves playing with a tug rope or ball. For them, it’s just a lot of fun,” he said.

Of course, the job has its serious side as well. In 2013 a police dog named Quanto, with more than 100 arrests to his credit, was killed in the line of duty in Edmonton. His death prompted the enactment of “Quanto’s Law (Justice for Animals in Service Act) that now imposes severe jail terms for killing or otherwise harming a police, military or service animal.

“There is obviously a risk involved, but our equipment has gotten better as well. The dogs are now outfitted with tracking harnesses and slash and stab proof vests, complete with Kevlar panels to protect them in close encounters with criminals,” explained Lequesne.

“Working with the K9 Unit is the best job in the world. It’s not often that you get to go home each night with your best friend and partner. There’s a special bond that develops, that’s certain.”

editor@vicnews.com

Just Posted

Savory School music room addition a hit

School’s PAC praises Legion’s generosity

VicPD honours seven citizens for their courage and dedication

Civic Service Awards presented at ceremony in Hall of Honour

‘It’s just hair:’ Central Saanich woman chops her locks for Wigs for Kids

Wigs for Kids BC will receive two 12-inch braids from Brentwood Bay resident Liza Glynn

New orca calf in Salish Sea ‘healthy and active’

Birth cause for celebration but things still dire genetically, expert says

POLL: Should people have to license their cats?

The Victoria Natural History Society has sent letters to 13 municipalities in… Continue reading

Second fatal crash occurs in Alberni Valley

Traffic on Highway 4 is being re-routed as investigators are en route

Indigenous energy summit includes session on pipeline ownership options

Steven Saddleback of the Indian Resource Council says a session will feature presentations on financing models

Japanese grand champion Kisenosato retires from sumo

The 32-year-old Kisenosato was the first Japanese-born wrestler in 19 years to gain promotion to sumo’s highest rank

UPDATE: Accused B.C. high school killer found fit to stand trial

Gabriel Klein is accused in the 2016 stabbing death of Letisha Reimer at Abbotsford Senior Secondary

Right-wing, neo-Nazi, white supremacist groups an increasing concern: Goodale

Ten people died in April 2018 when Alek Minassian allegedly drove a rental van down the busy stretch in Toronto

Canadian stock exchanges to conduct lottery for ‘POT’ ticker amid high demand

The symbol became available after fertilizer Potash Corp. officially merged with Agrium Inc. in early 2018

VIDEO: Mattress fire at Cowichan Hospital under investigation

The Cowichan District Hospital was locked down on Tuesday afternoon due to… Continue reading

Most Read