Since time immemorial that man has been domesticating animals, dog has remained his closest friend and companion. This is because dogs are very charming, loyal, sensitive and protective. Though some people take it as delicacy, they can be many things to anyone. Dogs are performing law enforcement, search and rescue, hunting, working with livestock, assistance to people with disabilities, entertainment, sports, psychological deterrent, detection and protecting people or property functions.
But one of the qualities that make dogs stand out is their uncanny sense of security and ability to detect potential illnesses that have held man spellbound. Dogs’ gift to identify a friend or enemy, criminals and their tracks, stolen property, hard drugs, potential diseases and lots more has assisted mankind to very great extent. Man has been blessed with healthy, peaceful, secured environment, activities and programmes through the support and guidance of dogs or canine (K9). Though they are of different breeds, each has its potential through which it performs wonderful and effective functions.
Of significant mention are the specialized dogs and their immense benefits to man and his society. They are so called because of their unique training. They are tough dogs for tough jobs. Used in this category are German shepherds, Belgian Malinois, Golden Retrievers, Labrador Retrievers and Bloodhounds that have been taught to perform and accomplish wonderful tasks. These breeds are more than ordinary dogs in terms of their utilities and the enormous trainings they have undergone. For example, German shepherd and Belgian Malinois have the best overall combination of keen sense of smell, endurance, speed, strength, courage, intelligence and adaptability to almost any climatic condition. A dog’s sense of smell is close to 50 times more sensitive than humans.
Specialized dogs are used for apprehension and attacks. That is, to locate and subdue suspects or enemies. They can search and rescue missing persons or objects. Specialized dogs are also popularly known for detection of explosives, weapons, illicit substances such as narcotics, currency and a whole lot of others. These dual-purpose dogs are skilled in off-leash obedience, and they are reliable and effective in sniffing and security.
The use of specialized dogs by institutions such as the military, security and intelligence cannot be overemphasized. For instance, during the United States Navy Seals’ raid and killing of the fugitive Osama bin Laden in an apartment in Abbottabad, Pakistan in 2011, a specialized dog named ‘Cairo’ (commonly thought to be a German Shepherd or a Belgian Malinois) was part of the team. According to a report, beside the fact that the dog was tasked with tracking “anyone who tried to escape and to alert SEALs to any Pakistani security forces, it helped to look for any hidden rooms or hidden doors in the compound.” It reflects the military’s growing reliance on dogs in wars and other areas. Dogs have proved far better than people or machines at quickly finding humans, bombs, drugs and currency. According to Gen. David H. Petraeus, the then commander of United States forces in Afghanistan expressed the need of more dogs for the military, “The capability they bring to the fight cannot be replicated by man or machine,” he said.
Another example of the outstanding performance of dogs was the discovering of fentanyl seizure at an Arizona border crossing in January 2019. A canine officer alerted his colleagues to the presence of the largest seized drug in the US history hidden inside an 18-wheeler cucumber. This goes to show that the benefits of dogs are huge and very relevant for Nigeria’ current security challenges. Armed insurgency, banditry, kidnapping, armed robbery, cultism, human parts dealers and related crimes are some of the challenges that can be mitigated with the use of the specialized dogs.
Though Nigerian security and intelligence agencies such as Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, Nigerian Army, Nigeria Air Force, Police and Prisons Service already have dogs in their units that are used specifically for the above-mentioned benefits. It is important to reiterate that what the agencies and others can accomplish with these specialized dogs are enormous in terms of their effectiveness with the rising cases of drug and human trafficking, illegal currency shipment, small arms and light weapon proliferation and other illicit activities.
At our local and international airports in Nigeria, specialized dogs can be better used to screen passengers and luggage for explosives, large amount of cash and to help in case of an emergency. Also in public places where there are threats or risks of violent attacks, specialized dogs can be stationed in strategic locations to detect explosives, narcotics or suspicious behaviour or persons. The use must be legally and sensitively applied because of cultural aversion to dogs in some regions.
Even private houses and offices can deplore specialized dogs to give maximum security or protection. Having access to these specialized dogs seems difficult because of the rigours of their trainings and upkeep. A few countries have professionals whose business are to breed and contract the dogs for the afore-mentioned purposes. One that is popular is the Worldwide Canine Inc. (WCI) in Texas, US and globally known for providing services in countries such as Mexico, Iraq, Costa Rica, Bahamas and Australia. Likewise, it is providing canine services to the Crown Prince and King of Saudi Arabia, President of Vietnam, Family Research Council and many Police departments in the United States of America.
– Dr Babatunde, O.A. is a Research Fellow at the Institute for Peace and Conflict Resolution, Abuja
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