News Local

Vancouver police dogs get new course

By Sara Norman

Tuesday night, the Vancouver Police canine squad helped apprehend a robbery suspect near East 21st Avenue. The 50-year-old man turned out to be a high-risk violent offender with a history of sexual offences. This was not the only time this week VPD’s police dogs were on the beat, and part of the reason officers say the new canine obstacle course unveiled Wednesday is so important.

The previous course was in disrepair, “completely falling apart,” according to Insp. Loris Zuccato, adding that the new equipment offers more variety, helping keep current service dogs in shape, and to train future canine forces.

“It’s a testing ground … [Police dogs] are very, very difficult to come by. We go through on average 25 to 30 dogs before finding one that meets the standard,” said Zuccato, adding that the course is a big part of that process.

A joint venture between VPD and BCIT Aboriginal Services, the new equipment was built by award-winning aboriginal trades students. The theme of the project is “breaking down walls, building bridges,” said Derik Joseph with BCIT Aboriginal Services. He called it “a positive relationship building project.”

Const. Matt Maggeau has been working with six-year-old German shepherd Justice since he was an eight-week-old puppy. He says they’ve responded to calls where suspects have jumped six-foot fences, and tracked criminals over 20 blocks before making an arrest.

Justice made his way through ladders, windows and other obstacles on the wooden course with ease, only stumbling once on a high wall. He’s just one of the 18 police dogs that will utilize the equipment, which Zuccato says has a limited lifespan because it sees a lot of paws.

“I think we had three or four years out of the other [course]. We’re hoping to get at least that,” says Maggeau.


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