They are eight – five females and three males-, almost three months old, the most recent operatives to reinforce the work of the Special Police Unit - Grupo Operacional Cinotécnico da Polícia de Segurança Pública do Porto and the Unidade Cinotécnica Municipal. The dogs come from a lineage of work German Shepherds and were donated, Tuesday afternoon, at the Centro de Recolha Oficial de Animais (CROA) of the city, as part of a protocol with City Hall.
Nina and Maria, the two females who will be assigned to the municipal unit, are the only ones who have been named and are already able to follow some instructions from the coaches and stay when commanded. In the six, that will reinforce PSP’s response, energy is at its height and, for now, they only care about playing and fighting for food until the end. But this is the ideal age to begin their training for more difficult missions.
For the Mayor of Porto, this “is a particularly beautiful moment”, although Rui Moreira shares the feeling that “ideally they should be able to reach the end of their lives without being needed. If so, they are one more element of safety and protection for citizens”.
When the dogs were donated, the Mayor stressed that “this is another sign of our commitment to the relationship we have been maintaining with the PSP, who we have a great respect for and the work they develop.”
Present at the ceremony, in addition to the Municipal Police Commander, Intendent António Leitão da Silva, the PSP Metropolitan Command Commander , Superintendent Paula Peneda, Porto City Hall vice Mayor, Filipe Araújo, and Councilwomen Catarina Araújo and Cristina Pimentel, PSP Police Special Unit, superintendent-chief Paulo Lucas was also present, who thanked the donation ensuring that “the dogs will be extremely useful”.
Reaffirming that “this moment shows an important sign of support to PSP”, the Special Unit Commander believes that the new canine agents “will contribute to the safety of Porto Metropolitan Area”.
As, Afonso Sousa, the superintendent of the Municipal Police explains, the PSP has a “wide range of competences and very diversified responsibilities”. The dogs “will be trained to detect narcotics activities or keeping the peace”, among other tasks. “They will make a casuistry assessment of the animals and will understand what their major vocation is and the way to maximize them the most”, says Afonso Sousa.
Reinforcement of a pioneer K-9 Unit in the country
The two other sisters joined the six dogs that already work with the Municipal K-9 Unit, that integrates the Municipal Police and the Firefighters Battalion. Being a unity created last year and, as Rui Moreira recalled, “pioneer in the country because it is composed of Policemen and Firefighters, specialized in rescue”, it is oriented essentially to the Civil Defence competences.
“A Unit like this is important because, once in a while, we see cases of landslides, earthquakes, situations where dogs are absolutely essential to find people who are under the wreckages and in danger” guaranteed the mayor. Thereby, the animals are trained to, in the future, integrate search and rescue missions.
During the next year and a half, “the appropriate time for them to be alone in rescue actions”, states the Major Ricardo Pereira, Sub-commander of BSB, the dogs will have daily training sessions, each one with a single trainer. “The work has to be very intimate between the trainer and the animal to build trust” and that will allow for “the animal to be more efficient when facing a more complex activity in protection and rescue”.
This dog training is carried out in “wreckage scenarios, abandoned facilities” to face “the most real situations possible”, besides, adds the sub-intendant of the Municipal Police, “a track we created with some obstacles to allow them to have a more effective training”.
Satisfied with this reinforcement of the operational ability, the subcommander of BSB believes that the work they will perform “is very important, especially these days, with some complex works in the city, but also with the increase of weather phenomena”.