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

Multi-vehicle crash along the Malahat leaves traffic crawling

Southbound lane heavily delayed at Malahat Summit

Victoria man arrested in connection with Hillside murder

Daniel Creagh faces second-degree murder charge in death of Joseph Gauthier

Raccoons making themselves at home on Saanich property

Resident blames neighbour for attracting pests to area

Peace Walk fundraiser for hospice runs on Sunday

Take a walk, have a snack, and help donate to a local charity

City of Victoria joins national food waste reduction program

The City is partnering in the Love Food, Hate Waste Program

BC Games: Day 3 wrap and closing ceremonies

The torch in the Cowichan Valley has been extinguished as Fort St. John gets ready to host the 2020 BC Winter Games

Royal Canadian Navy announces leadership changes in Esquimalt

Commodore Angus Topshee new commander of Canadian Fleet Pacific, naval reserve also gets new leader

Police confirm girl, 8 others injured in Toronto shooting; shooter dead

Paramedics said many of the victims in Danforth, including a child, were rushed to trauma centres

Why do they do it? Coaches guide kids to wins, personal bests at the BC Games

Behind the 2,300 B.C. athletes are the 450 coaches who dedicate time to help train, compete

Government sets full-time salary range for Justin Trudeau’s nanny

At its top range, the order works out to a rate of $21.79 per hour, assuming a 40-hour work week

Lower Mainland teams battle for baseball gold at BC Games

Vancouver Coastal squeaked out a 3-2 win against Fraser Valley

Saanich welcomes feedback on development charges

Info sessions set for July 25 on update to Saanich DCC bylaw

The Northern Secwepemc te Qelmucw people signed an agreement-in-principle with the B.C. government

The signing ceremony, at the Eliza Archie Memorial School, was 25 years in the making

Most Read