The Kolkata Police Thursday (February 13) announced it will induct the dog breed that helped US Seals track Osama bin Laden in 2011 in Pakistan.
According to a PTI report, the breed, Belgian Malinois will be inducted into the specialised dog squad being set up to combat terror activities in Kolkata. Early last year, the Mumbai police too added the Belgian Malinois to its existing dog squad.
A 2011 report in The New York Times said that the dog used to track Osama bin Laden, which at the time it suspected was either a German Shepherd or a Belgian Malinois, “reflects the military’s growing dependence on dogs in wars in which improvised explosive devices have caused two-thirds of all casualties. Dogs have proven far better than people or machines at quickly finding bombs.”
Conan, another US military Belgian Malinois, played an important role in the raid that killed Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in 2019. While praising it last year, US President Donald Trump had described it as an “ultimate fighter” and a “tough cookie”.
According to the American Kennel Club, the Belgian Malinois is one of the four breeds of Belgian sheepdogs that were bred for herding. According to the American Belgian Malinois Club, Malinois is the short-coated variety of a Belgian Shepherd Dog.“These dogs excel at obedience, tracking, agility, flyball, herding, showing, Schutzhund and other protection sports, search and rescue, police work, and just about anything else a dog can do,” it says.
How are dogs useful to police and military teams?
According to the US War Dogs Association (WDA), dogs have visual and olfactory sensory abilities that can go where a soldier cannot. They can also intimidate a foe more quickly using non-lethal force.
Because of these qualities, dogs have been trained for military duties for over a century. Dogs are reported to have ten to twenty times the number of receptors in their nose as compared to humans. This makes it easier for dogs to perform tasks such as tracking, detecting explosives and narcotics, and conducting search and rescue.
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In the US, Military Working Dogs (MWD) perform specific duties — sentry dogs, scout or patrol dogs, messenger dogs, mine dogs, casualty and tunnel dogs and dogs for explosives detection. According to WDA, the US MWDs vastly consist of German and Dutch Shephards and Belgian Malinois.
Police dogs in India
According to a photo essay titled ‘War Dogs of the World’, published in Foreign Policy, after the 2008 Mumbai terrorist attack, the demand for bomb-sniffing dogs rose “so fast” that India could not keep up with the requests.
Referring to a Washington Post report, it says, “But as insurgents and terrorists expand their targets across the country, dogs are also being deployed to malls, metro stations, luxury hotels and other public places in India’s booming new cities.”
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In October 2019, Delhi Police said it would induct five Golden Retrievers into its canine squad. These dogs were brought from a kennel in Hyderabad and were trained for six months in a training centre run by the BSF in Tekanpur in Madhya Pradesh.
A senior police officer had told The Indian Express in October 2019, “They can detect any bomb or explosive like RDX. Sometimes, criminals try to cover the bomb with cow dung or other substances so dogs wouldn’t be able to detect it. These new dogs have been trained to tackle situations like these very well.”
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