Four legs on the front line as ABF welcomes new detector dogs

By Melissa Coade

March 10, 2022

ABF dog handler Kelly Daniel and his narcotics detection dog
ABF dog handler Kelly Daniel and his narcotics detection dog Hassa. (AAP Image/Darren England)

Three very good dogs are set to join the Australian Border Force team, having officially graduated from an eight-month training program with their handlers in Melbourne.

Detecting explosives was the focus of the training for the dogs, named Hawk, Kath and Grayson, at the National Detector Dog Program Facility. The facility is used by the ABF and other partner agencies to train assistance animals to detect prohibited and restricted goods.

ABF detector dogs sniffed out all manner of illicit drugs, currency, explosives, firearms and tobacco products last calendar year, with more than 1,500 positive detections made. 

In a statement, ABF tactical capability commander Rod Winchester said he was very proud of the four-legged trio, whose working lives would complement technological capabilities such as x-ray and trace particle detection, as well as the intuition of officers.

“We run a world class detector dog training program, but any program is only as good as those who are part of it. The hard work and dedication of our foster carers, our breeding, training and support teams and operational units is to be commended,” Winchester said.   

The ABF uses dogs for broad operational missions, and their method is regarded as an ‘unobtrusive and non-discriminatory’ screening detection capability, as they can screen crowds and large warehouses quickly and efficiently.

There are 79 dogs in active service of Border Force nationwide, and 49 detector dogs have graduated since 2019.

Border Force claims its world-renowned working dogs enjoy high demand among domestic and international law enforcement partners, and Winchester thanked foster carers whose efforts helped to make the training for operational work possible.

Volunteer foster carers accommodate the ABF’s next generation of detector dogs while the agency covers costs for food, veterinary needs, equipment and foster carer training. People interested in volunteering to care for the animals can apply via the ABF website.


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