Meet the canines who fight crime
RICHMOND Local Area Command's crime-fighting canines have been revealed on the back of a major drug bust in Ballina late last month.
Doug, the Labrador drug detection dog, has been sniffing out crime on the Northern Rivers since 2011 under the watchful eye of handler David Kotek.
Senior Constable Kotek, of the Sydney Dog Unit, also has a German Shepherd General Purpose Dog; working his team full time for the Richmond LAC at festivals, drug busts and other secret missions.
Doug helped to execute a search warrant at Skennars Head on January 30, netting cocaine, MDMA, cannabis, cannabis resin, cannabis seeds and $10,000 in alleged proceeds.
The eight-year-old pooch was bred for police service. His sense of smell is 150 times stronger than a human, with a range of over 1000 scents, all targeting illicit substances.
Working the same eight hour shifts as his handler, Doug can screen the free air space around a person without touching them and seeks out smells from 100 metres away.
He once found drugs in a 4WD snorkel.
"Doug has no rank but amongst the troops we joke the dog outranks us because he does so much work," Snr Cnst Kotek said.
"He has a very high drive for work, a good perception of other people and is quite robust in fitness level and size for working - he can reach into cupboards..
"Doug is due for retirement, which is a shame because he's still on his A-Game."
Meanwhile, German Shepherd Ken, 5, is used for crowd control, sieges and foot pursuits.
The two dogs are "chalk and cheese," in temperament.
"I think the troops on the ground appreciate the back back up of the General Purpose Dog, it's like having an extra 20 officers on foot.
"We know if we can't chase them down, the dog will."
Both dogs are rewarded treats relative to their job well done, with a pursuit early Friday at Casino earning Ken a "big feed and a big pat."
The dogs enjoy beach walks and socialising. But be warned: "if the dog is working, no one touches the dog," Snr Cnst Kotek said.