The Delhi Police dog squad will no longer have any German Shepherds, with the last canine, nine-year-old Ruby, retiring next month after eight years of service. Ruby’s handler said its hind legs have grown weak with age and it can no longer support the weight of its body. The dog will be handed over to Friendicoes for further care.
An expert in tracking, Ruby helped the Delhi Police crack two murder cases in December 2015. In the first case, the murders of two children in Sangam Vihar, police said it led investigators to a spot in the jungle — 200 meters away from the scene of crime — where the attackers had consumed liquor and smoked bidis.
The dog’s handler, Ved Prakash, told The Indian Express: “In the second case, Ruby helped us track down the locality where the accused lived. Later, with the help of the human intelligence, local police managed to nab him.” Prakash said the dog will get a recommendation letter from the DCP for its outstanding work.
As of now, the dog squad, which comes under the Crime Branch of Delhi Police, has a total of 72 canines — one German Shepherd, four Cocker Spaniels and 67 Labrador Retrievers.
Earlier, the squad used to have only Dobermans and German Shepherds. But sources said they are being replaced by Labradors, which are experts in detecting narcotics, explosives, tracking, and search and rescue.
Dharambir, who is in charge of the squad, told The Indian Express that German Shepherds are known as the ‘king of dogs’. “They are just as capable as Labradors… But Labradors are calmer. So, the force decided to make the switch,” he said.
Of the 72 canines, 22 are kept at the headquarters in Model Town located inside the police station. The rest are distributed among the 13 districts polices. Ruby is presently at the R K Puram office of the south district police. It lives in one of the canals, along with five Labradors.
“On May 3, I noticed that Ruby was finding it difficult to walk and I took it to a veterinary hospital in Moti Bagh. Doctors said it was time for the dog to retire,” Prakash said.
When The Indian Express visited the canal on Friday, Ruby was sitting quietly in a corner.
“It ate three chapatis and drank a litre of milk. German Shepherds suffer from a slight defect in their hind legs, which makes them appear bent. Due to Ruby’s age, its legs have become weak,” Prakash added. Ruby’s last job was on May 1, when it helped police in a dacoity case in Saket.
Another handler said Ruby was extremely friendly and got along with the other dogs. “It will be missed,” he said.
Ruby was bought from from a dog club in Hyderabad in 2009, just before the Commonwealth Games. It was six months old then. “The club had named the dog, trained in tracking at the Border Security Force (BSF) academy in Madhya Pradesh’s Tekanpur,” a police officer said.
“It has helped police in at least seven cases. Its most outstanding case was the Sangam Vihar one. The dog has been also used during VVIP movements and for checking at malls and shopping centres,” he added.
The average age of service of a dog in Delhi Police is eight to ten years. “The decision to retire the dogs in the force is taken after consulting veterinary doctors,” the officer said, adding that over 25 police dogs have been handed over to Friendicoes in the past 10 years.