Mandurah Police have an invaluable furry-force at their beck and call, working behind the scenes to sniff out drugs and catch crooks.
The Mandurah Mail visited the WA Police Dog Squad on Thursday, learning how pups assist Gang Crime Squad raids, track hiding offenders and find kilos of drugs, that otherwise, would have ended up on the streets.
In the Mandurah District, the dog squad has helped seize 336 grams of methamphetamine, 573 grams of cannabis and $74,910 cash, in the past six months.
We watched training drills, witnessed a stunt attack and learnt how dogs can perform the services of up to three police officers, according to Officer in Charge Peter Arancini.
The station has more than 40 dogs of different breeds, including dutch Shepherds and Belgian Malinios, who learn how to detect explosives, find narcotics, locate weapons and stolen property.
Police Drug Detection Dog Handler Brooke O'Keefe, who is assisting a current Mandurah drug operation, handles Labradors Orchid, 'Orchi', 7, and 'Henry', 4.
Senior Constable O'Keefe has helped Gang Crime Squad with home raids in Mandurah, assisted the Tactical Response Group, helped detectives and general duty police.
Orchi is an active narcotic-detection dog involved in home, vehicle and land searches, taught to scratch, bite or paw, when she finds drugs and large sums of cash.
Henry is a passive alert-detection dog who is mostly used at concerts, events and public areas, who is taught to sit when he finds drugs on a person.
Senior Constable O'Keefe said dogs can assist police in ways a human cannot.
If an agro dog is deployed, nine times out of ten the offender will have second thoughts about standing up to police.Senior Constable Wade Emery
"Officers can do a hand search but if the drugs are buried or in the walls, you're not going to know or have a reason to look," she said.
Senior Constable O'Keefe said she had a strong bond with her pups, who she is with 24/7.
"They come to work with me each day and come home with me each night," she said.
"They race to the gate and get excited to go to work."
Senior Constable O'Keefe said responsive dogs will usually retire at about eight or nine-years-old, but passive dogs can stay on for another couple of years.
"The passive dogs' work is not as strenuous as the responsive dogs," she said.
Senior Constable O'Keefe said the dogs eat a specialised diet, mainly of dog kibble, have lots of down time and are looked after "particularly well".
Senior Constable Cheyne Kynoch, who is training 23-month-old German Shepherd, 'Axe', said police dogs were a "force multiplier".
"They go places we can't go and see things we can't see and smell," he said.
"They extend our capabilities in front-line policing and deescalate situations, before we need to go hands on."
Senior Constable Kynoch said suitable dogs for the job were hardworking and aimed to please.
"Axe wants to find drugs to get his reward," he said.
"The stronger the bond, the more likely the dog is going to want to work for you.
"You want a dog on the road that is going to be by your side."
Senior Constable Wade Emery, who is training 'Doom', said dogs can control aggressive people affected by drugs or alcohol.
"We deal with some of the worst kind of people who don't want to listen what we say," he said.
"Their presence alone helps with out of control parties and offenders.
"If an agro dog is deployed, nine times out of ten the offender will have second thoughts about standing up to police."
Senior Constable Emery said the dogs could track offenders location by smell.
Police dog, 'Faustus', tracked an offender hiding in the bushes, who had evaded police from Lakelands to Baldivis on March 3, 2019.
"Without them we would have no chance at finding someone through bush or urban areas," Senior Constable Emery said.
"They track on scent from disturbed ground. Through training you teach them to target that odour and follow footsteps."
Senior Constable Kynoch said the squad can be operating in a different area each day.
"If there is a job is happening they will get pushed there, but we can go from Mandurah to Joondalup if it is required - wherever are needed, we go."
Senior Constable Kynoch said the dogs learnt from rewards, like playing with their favourite toy.
Training included obedience, tracking, narcotic work and bite work.
"We have just finished a month of odor foundation getting the dogs used to searching behaviours, locating drugs and identifying how to act once those drugs are located," Senior Constable Kynoch said.
The stronger the bond, the more likely the dog is going to want to work for you.Senior Constable Cheyne Kynoch
Mandurah Acting Senior Sergeant Phil Woods said the Doq Squad was "hugely important" for police operations in the district.
"They assist us with various operations and make it easier for us to do our job," he said.
Acting Senior Sergeant Woods said detection dogs had assisted ongoing Mandurah Police 'Operation Celsius', searching for drugs on people in busy areas like the foreshore, train station, Smart Street Mall and beachfront car parks.
"The operation is running in locations with a historical problem of stealing from motor vehicles, and complaints of drug use," he said.
"We've successfully charged a number of people with being in the possession of drugs."
Senior Sergeant Arancini said five dogs operated in regional WA, a number police were looking to increase in coming years.