Established in 1949, the Police Dog Unit (PDU) has been serving the Force for over seven decades. Currently, the unit comprises 170 police officers and 190 police dogs. This issue of OffBeat turns the spotlight on PDU, a special unit that calls for seamless collaboration between humans and canines in order to support law enforcement in each police district.
Police Constables Ah Hong and Nicole joined PDU seven and four years ago respectively. Before joining the unit, Ah Hong had experience raising dogs, but Nicole had none whatsoever. As a rookie, Nicole struggled to handle basic dog care during the initial phase of her training. She said, “When the dogs barked, it was very hard to tell if they were excited or dissatisfied. When it came to taking the dogs to relieve themselves, it took time to learn how to ‘potty-train’ them. The trick is to be patient and loving.”
On average, PDU training lasts for 16 weeks. The handler and the dog are almost starting from scratch in unison. While rapport and synchronicity are gradually established between them, the handler and the dog are also building their respective skills step by step. According to Ah Hong and Nicole, dog handlers are required to be extremely fit physically. They said, “Most police dogs weigh over 30 kilograms. You cannot harness them unless you are strong enough. The training is interspersed with many interactive games, so dog handlers will get exhausted very easily if they are not in tip-top physical condition. We would give the dogs rewards, such as food or toys, once they accomplish a mission. However, we must remember not to let the dogs get carried away, as they should remain highly obedient to instructions.”
Police dogs are roughly classified into patrol dogs, narcotics detection dogs and explosives detection dogs, and the focuses of their training are different. For example, patrol dogs are trained on their obedience and attention span, as they need to focus on their work on crowded streets and places, while explosives detection dogs are trained on their endurance, which enables them to search large area with speed and accuracy. PDU would also nurture “multipurpose” police dogs, by fully equipping each dog for a range of functions such as patrolling, conducting search and detecting drugs, according to their respective characteristics.
After completing the training, the police dogs will be stationed at the five police regions as well as departments such as the Emergency Unit, to assist police officers in executing their duties. During the protests against the extradition law amendment last year, not only did police dogs shoulder frontline duties, they were also frequently deployed to comb through key buildings for the sake of ensuring safety.
For both Ah Hong and Nicole, their years of being dog handlers have been filled with fond memories. According to Nicole, police dogs are known as “midnight violence eradicators”—wherever there were gatherings of hooligans who were not even daunted by police officers, Nicole and the police dog would often have an intimidating presence to keep things under control as soon as they arrived. As for Ah Hong, he smilingly recalled a PDU performance as his most memorable experience, in which he played a lawbreaker who got chased and bitten by a police dog. Even though Ah Hong had taken adequate precautionary measures, he was still very stressed at first.
Currently, Ah Hong and Nicole are responsible for training novice handlers and police dogs. They admitted that it is a challenging task, especially because habits and temperaments vary hugely from dog to dog. As trainers, they must observe intently to help colleagues get the hang of dog handling as soon as possible, in order to pass the torch to their successors.
Members of OffBeat Editorial Committee:
|Mr Kenneth Kwok||CSP PPRB (Chairperson)|
|Ms Jessica Wong||PIO PP PPRB|
|Mr Raymond Lee||CIP MR PPRB|
|Ms Tsui Lok-yan||TSRO HKI|
|Ms Rachel Lau||TSRO KW|
|Mr Marco Chan||ATSRO NTN|
|Ms Grace Mak||TSRO NTS|
|Mr Ernest Ng||TSRO MAR (Ag)|
|Mr Wilson Tam||SIP SR 2|
|Mr Ma Tak-hung||JPOA REP|
|Ms Yvonne Wu||EO CSR A|
|Editor:||Ivy Leung: 2860-6171|
|Reporter:||Nicole Yim: 2860-6172|
|Photographers:||Hugo Lam: 2860-6174
Lam Yu-san: 2860-6175
|Address:||10/F, Arsenal House, Police Headquarters,
No.1 Arsenal Street, Wan Chai, Hong Kong
|Deadline for Issue 1176:||December 23, 2020 (before 6pm)
|Deadline for Issue 1177:||January 7, 2021 (before 6pm)
Procedures for submission of articles can be viewed through the hexagon of OffBeat on Police Intranet (POINT).
Published by the Police Public Relations Branch, Hong Kong Police Force