Shortage of K9’s after untimely deaths

2014-11-10 00:00

THE Pietermaritzburg K9 Unit is mourning the loss of a brave canine crime-fighter, the latest in a spate of police dogs killed in the line of duty.

In the early hours of Friday, one of the top Pietermaritzburg police dogs, Sky, was shot and killed while pursuing armed burglars.

Constable Eugene Rautenbach and his Belgian Shepherd, Sky, responded to a house breaking on Town Bush Road, Chase Valley. While in pursuit of the armed burglars, Rautenbach’s greatest friend and partner was shot in the mouth.

Lieutenant Jack Haskins from the K9 Unit said the dog was only five years old and his death occurred as he was reaching his prime in his career.

“Rautenbach is very upset about losing his dog, because it was the first police dog he had trained. However, the dog saved his life,” he said.

Police spokesperson, Thulani Zwane, said Rautenbach joined the K9 Unit in 2010 and embarked on the patrol dog course in 2012 where he trained Sky.

The dog apprehended 10 people who had been charged with commiting various crimes in the Midlands area, and was also being utilised to search for explosives, the safe keeping of VIP’s, and attending to bomb scares and suspicious parcels.

“He must be traumatised. I understand how painful it is to lose a police dog, because police dogs are our partners and colleagues,” said one of the handlers who could not be named.

“Losing a dog as a handler is like losing a child. This affects us all as dog handlers, because the number of dogs decreases in the unit.”

• Last month, The Witness reported the death of police dog, Storm, who was killed by an illegal electrical connection in Copesville while trying to apprehend wanted culprits.

• Towards the end of October, Chaka, a Rottweiler, was found dead 11 days after chasing a robbery suspect near a river in Mariannhill, Durban.

His death has, however, yielded a positive turn — South Africa’s first tracking collar for police dogs was unveiled and field-tested in Hillcrest last week, triggered by the search for this K9 hero.

The Witness reported earlier that the pioneering technology has been developed and built by a group of civilians who searched the river beds and bushes of Mariannhill and who decided that “never again” should a police dog be lost in KZN.

The “Project Chaka” prototype tested at the Shongweni K9 Unit uses transmitters which are normally used to locate hunting falcons, hidden within home-made fabric collars.


SIX of the Pietermaritzburg K9 Unit handlers are without dogs.

“At the present moment, we’ve lost dogs due to their age as well as others being killed in the line of duty. We desperately plead with the public to donate German Shepherds, Belgian Shepherds and Rottweilers between the ages of one and three years old,” said Haskins.

Contact Warrant Officer Koekies Koekemoer on  033 3879668 or 083 5600 094.


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