It's a dog's life as police face critical canine shortages

2016-01-29 16:00
Warrant Officer Jason Reddy and his sniffer dog Paris. (Giordano Stolley, News24)

Warrant Officer Jason Reddy and his sniffer dog Paris. (Giordano Stolley, News24)

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Cape Town – The South African Police Service is facing a critical shortage of dogs.

While there was more than enough money to make up the shortage, the challenge was finding trainable dogs, the unit told Parliament on Friday.

Component head Major General Michael Motlhala told Parliament’s police committee that they either got dogs through donations, their breeding section or they bought them for up to R30 000 each.

Right now, there were 224 trained K9 handlers without dogs, and there were 215 old operational dogs to be boarded.

There were also 197 members at different units who would be going through the K9 course, the committee heard.

Lieutenant General Nhlanhla Mkhwanazi said there was enough money to buy the dogs.

In 2015, R5.1m had been allocated to buy dogs but they could not spend any of it because the right dogs needed to be found. 

In 2016, a total of R10m has been allocated and so far they have spent only R3m.

Members of Parliament questioned how dogs were assessed, and if the unit had any relationships with breeders’ societies to fast track the acquisition.

Mkhwanazi said the only challenge they faced was the procurement process.

“Also the issue of assessment of dogs. Because we assess in terms of fitness of training and the medical history needs to be assessed.”

He said there was a shortage in quality assessment by vets who were giving the health assessment.

“We identify over a 100 dogs and we are told that only five of them for example are medically fit to be trained. So we want to have checks and balances on that.”

Motlhala said there were 95 patrol K9 handlers without dogs.

There were also 84 handlers from the explosives unit and 31 from narcotics who needed dogs.

In the 2015/16 year, 174 dogs were received as donations and 50 of those were sent to training.

Read more on:    saps  |  cape town  |  animals

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