Saturday Features

Four-legged Heroes

  • Celebrating furry companions that serve the nation 24/7
- Dipesh Khatiwada

Oct 29, 2016-

Tihar is upon us and needless to say Kukur Tihar will be populating the news and social media feeds again this year. Dogs are loved all over the world and it is perhaps not all that surprising that Nepal’s unique tradition of honouring our furry companions on the second day of the Tihar has struck a chord with so many, particularly when juxtaposed against the “other” annual dog festival in Yulin, China.

Dogs have been a part of human history from our hunter and gatherer days. The first animals to be domesticated, experts believe that the domestication of canines was a watershed moment that changed the human perception and relationship with the wild, allowing us to eventually rear a wide range of animals. Through that long shared history, humans have used dogs for a variety of purposes, from hunting companions and shepherding to serving as beasts of burden and sentinels. And though in the past centuries, the ubiquity of ‘work dogs’ has declined around the world, machines and advancements have yet to render a key use for dogs’ obsolete policing. 

Dogs have played a vital role in police forces around the world for the better part of the past 100 years. In Nepal, the use of trained dogs in crime investigation goes back at least five decades, when police officials attended a training in Malaysia, bringing back four dogs to establish the then “Police Dog Section.”

That department today has grown into the Central Police Dog Training School (CPDTS) that now houses 40 dogs deployed for hunting down suspects, hounding out arms, explosives and drugs, and for search and rescue operations during natural disasters. Superintendent of Police, Deuti Gurung, the chief at CPDTS, informs that these dogs are brought in for up to 80 percent of all criminal investigations. According to Gurung, Nepal Police currently trains three breeds of dogs: German Shepherds for their strength, intelligence and teachability, particularly for the detection of explosives and the tracking and apprehension of human suspects, and Labrador and Golden Retrievers for their tenacity with sniffing out narcotics and for tracking human suspects. There are a total of 68 police dogs in Nepal spread out through the five development regions, with them being deployed primarily at airports and border crossings when not a part of criminal investigations. Gurung confirms that plans are afoot to recruit Bloodhounds and the Belgian Shepards (Malinois) in the future. 

“Our dogs have so often led to the tracking and identifying of criminals or drug busts that they have become an inseparable part of the police force,” Gurung says, “it is just that their amazing work seldom comes into the limelight.” But the contribution that the canine officers make to security apparatus is not lost on Nepal Police, which is why Kukur Tihar is celebrated with such vim and gusto at the CPDTS each year. 

These are six four-legged heroes on the frontlines that are being honoured for their tenacious work this year

Name: Lio 

Breed: German Shepherd

Age: 9 years

Stationed: Kathmandu Valley

Speciality: Bomb dog, search and identification of arms and xplosives Claim to fame: Lio played a crucial role during the second Constituent Assembly election helping the police secure polling centres in and around the Valley. He was also mobilised when former US President Jimmy Carter visited Nepal as an observer for the said elections. Lio was deployed during the 18th SAARC summit as well.

Name: Rescue

Breed: German Shepherd

Age: 7 years

Area: Kathmandu Valley

Speciality: Rescue dog, casualty detection and rescue Claim to fame: True to his given name, Rescue is the foremost rescue dog at CPDTS. He was heavily deployed during the 2015 earthquakes in Kathmandu Valley’s three 

districts. Earlier, on January 28, 2014, Rescue helped retrieve the body of a civil engineer who was buried by a dry landslide at Brapche in Chilime VDC, Rasuwa. He had been deployed at the site four days after the incident. 

Name: Bhunti

Breed: German Shepherd

Age: 1.5 years

Stationed: Kohalpur, Banke 

Speciality: Tracker dog specialising in the tracking and apprehension of human suspects. 

Claim to fame: Though still young, Bhunti has established herself as a competent member of the police force. On April 27, 2016, Bhunti led a tracking operation that resulted in the apprehension of a runaway convict accused of murdering four members of the same family in Ranagaun, Salyan.  

Name: Maya

Breed: Labrador Retriever

Age: 8 years

Stationed: Pokhara, Kaski 

Speciality: Sniffer dog specialising in the search and identification of narcotics  

Claim to fame: Maya, a star of Pokhara’s canine squad, has been involved in a number of drug busts over the years. More recently, on March 16, 2015, Maya helped sniff out a vehicle in Bagar, Kaski which led to the apprehension of the 33-year-old Prithiman Gurung with a hefty amount of morphine and syringes in tow. 

Name: Jack

Breed: German Shepherd

Age: 2 years

Stationed: Hetauda, Makwanpur 

Speciality: Tracker dog specialising in the tracking and apprehension of human suspects.

Claim to fame: On January 29, 2016, Jack helped track, identify and apprehend the suspect in the murder of 65-year-old CPN-UML cadre Ram Naresh Yadav in Sarlahi. Yadav had been murdered at his village in Haripur-7 while on a morning walk. Jack helped track down the suspect after sniffing a woolen cap found at the crime scene. 

Name: Siya

Breed: Golden Retriever

Age: 8 years

Area: Dharan, Sunsari

Speciality: Sniffer dog specialising in the search and identification of narcotics 

Claim to fame: Siya has been deployed, with noted success, at the eastern border check points and the Biratnagar Aiport for the past four years. Her biggest bust till date was on December 12, 2012 when she sniffed out several quintals of marijuana and 30 bottles of illegal liquor at the Jogbani border crossing. 

Published: 29-10-2016 14:43

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