Const. Eric Lequesne and his partner, Diesel, love police work and the special relationship they have as members of the K9 Unit. Tim Collins/Victoria News

K9 Unit the best job in the world: VicPD handler

New dogs from Germany join the local force

New team members are joining the Victoria Police Department following a recruitment process that reached out all the way to Germany to find perfect candidates.

The three new officers are, in fact, recruits for the force’s K-9 corps.

“We have three new German shepherds that we’ve just received through a broker in Sacramento with contacts to the breeding facilities in Germany,” explained Const. Eric Lequesne, one of the K9 Unit dog handlers. “These are dogs with bloodlines that go back to generations of working dogs; the best dogs available anywhere.”

The dogs are exhaustively vetted, first in Europe and then upon their arrival in Canada.

“We look at whether they are environmentally suited for the job, and are capable of handling things like slick floors and metal stairways,” Lequesne said. “We also check on their drive to work (some dogs, believe it or not, are lazy), and whether they are sociable enough for the job.

The human members of the pairings are similarly screened in an application process that looks at the officers’ physical fitness, their qualifications, service history and experience with animals.

“We make sure we select officers that can be matched to the temperament and energy of the dogs who will become their constant companions and working partners. The dogs will live with that officer, so it’s important that the officer’s living situation allows for that sort of arrangement,” Lequesne said.

The new dogs, like their fellow canine officers already on the force, will undergo a rigorous course of training to qualify them for tasks that range from finding evidence, detecting drugs or firearms, searching crime scenes for suspects, and apprehending those suspects on command.

They will join the four German shepherds and three chocolate Labradors already in the K9 Unit, a complement that allows for a dog to be available for duty every evening and most days.

The unit’s Labs are generally used for the detection of drugs and explosives, while the German shepherds are more general duty dogs used for searches and the apprehension of criminals.

Sgt. Mike Chicorelli, the K9 Unit’s principle trainer, described how the dogs are prepared to go to work.

“The techniques have really gotten so much better since we got our first dog in 1984. There are a variety of techniques, but basically the dogs are trained to perform a specific job, and when they do it right, the reward they are given involves playing with a tug rope or ball. For them, it’s just a lot of fun,” he said.

Of course, the job has its serious side as well. In 2013 a police dog named Quanto, with more than 100 arrests to his credit, was killed in the line of duty in Edmonton. His death prompted the enactment of “Quanto’s Law (Justice for Animals in Service Act) that now imposes severe jail terms for killing or otherwise harming a police, military or service animal.

“There is obviously a risk involved, but our equipment has gotten better as well. The dogs are now outfitted with tracking harnesses and slash and stab proof vests, complete with Kevlar panels to protect them in close encounters with criminals,” explained Lequesne.

“Working with the K9 Unit is the best job in the world. It’s not often that you get to go home each night with your best friend and partner. There’s a special bond that develops, that’s certain.”

editor@vicnews.com

Just Posted

PHOTOS: Cool cats cruise in for the ninth annual Langford Show and Shine bash

The ninth annual event features classic and muscle cars and several prizes

PHOTOS: Playful pooches take over Bullen Park for free event Saturday, Sunday

Ninth annual Pet-A-Palooza featured a mud run, weiner dog races, puppy stampede and more

Take your opportunity to sing at the Royal Theatre

Great Canadian Sing debuts Sept. 8 with inspirational music, talented performers, singalong format

Victoria’s Other Secret not so secret anymore

How six Mount Doug teachers turned a lunch jam into $11,000 raised for charity

PHOTOS: Inside the opening of the expanded Westhills Stadium

The grand opening of the expanded stadium in Langford is on schedule for Aug. 24

70 years of lifting: Canadian man, 85, could cinch weightlifting championship

The senior gym junkie is on track to win the World Masters Weightlifting championship

Advocates ‘internationalize’ the fight to free Raif Badawi from Saudi prison

Raif Badawi was arrested on June 17, 2012, and was later sentenced to 1,000 lashes and 10 years in jail for his online criticism of Saudi clerics

RCMP, search crews hunt for 4-year-old boy missing near Mackenzie

George went missing early Saturday afternoon

Canadian entrepreneurs turning beer byproduct into bread, cookies and profits

Some breweries turn to entrepreneurs looking to turn spent grain into treats for people and their pets

Canada ‘disappointed’ terror suspect’s British citizenship revoked

Jack Letts, who was dubbed “Jihadi Jack” by the U.K. media, has been detained in a Kurdish prison for about two years

Chrystia Freeland condemns violence in Hong Kong, backs right to peaceful assembly

There have been months of protests in the semi-autonomous region

B.C. VIEWS: Log exports and my other errors so far in 2019

Plastic bags, legislature overspending turn out differently

‘It’s just the freedom:’ Paralyzed Broncos player pursuing life on the water

The former Humboldt Broncos goaltender, who started in the net when he was nine, was paralyzed last year

Most Read