Eight drug-detection dogs are about to embark on their new careers in the state’s prison system.
The K9 Handlers and their pooches have recently graduated an intensive 16-week specialised course of dog handling and training.
The recruits join more than 40 staff already working in Corrective Services NSW’s K9 unit.
Three of the dogs – Bert, Seb and Wilbur – will be attached to the Sydney metropolitan region, which includes Parklea Correctional Centre.
K9 handler Mick Campbell, who is partnered with the 20-month old border collie/kelpie cross Seb, said it’s great having a new mate on the job.
“It’s exciting when you achieve milestones with your dog such as when they first smell a particular drug odour,” Mr Campbell said.
“I love having a second family with the K9 unit and our furry friends.”
K9 training manager Sharon Charman said the correctional officers and their canine charges were very adaptive to new environments and information.
“The new recruits have learnt a variety of theory including dog psychology and dealing with incidents, to the practical experience of searching inmates and visitors at correctional centres,” Ms Charman said.
“They’ll play an important role like the rest of the unit, which conducts regular searches at prisons across the state to help fight drugs and other contraband getting into correctional centres. This provides and promotes a safer environment for staff, inmates and visitors.”
The elite Security Operations Group (SOG) was responsible for searching more than 85,000 inmates, visitors and vehicles last year. Their actions led to 573 visitors being refused entry, of which 243 were charged by police for contraband offences.
Some dogs are trained to discover drugs while others detect mobile phones and explosives.