THE JOINT SERVICE
DOG TRAINING SCHOOL
Melton Mowbray, Leicestershire, England
The Defence Animal Centre prides itself on its well deserved reputation as the leading dog training school in the UK and is rated as one of the best in the world!
It was during World War 2 that the Corps developed its interest in the use of dogs for military purposes - this was to ensure its post-war viability.
In 1942 the RAVC became responsible for the procurement of dogs for all service agencies, to avoid the duplication that had arisen between the Services in the acquisition of war dogs; in 1946 it was assigned the overall management for the Army's dog resources.
A further 49 years were to pass before the duplication of effort in the training of services dogs was to be addressed; not until late 1992, when the Ministry of Defence phrased out the Royal Air Force Dog Training Squadron, at RAF Newton.
Today, the RAVC's DAC is the only point of acquisition and training for all dogs required for service by the British Armed Forces, Ministry of Defence's Police, HM Customs & Excise, the Home Office, other government agencies in the UK, and some Commonwealth members as well.
Outside the UK, the Defence Animal Support Unit RAVC, at Sennelager, Germany, continues to provide technical support for all animals on the continent, including a current commitment in Bosnia, and still occupies the same premises today, that it moved into back in 1945.
In Asia, the RAVC maintains a Defence Animal Support Unit RAVC in Brunei as part of The Jungle Warfare Wing located, Medicina Lines, Seria.
The Defence Animal Centre relies heavily upon the valued public donations of dogs to supply their Armed Forces of the United Kingdom; the preferred breeds used are: German Shepherds, any gundog breed and Border Collies, between one and three years of age.
The military staff at the DAC, from both the Army and RAF, reflect in their training, the skills, experience and knowledge gained on operations with military dogs in Northern Ireland, Bosnia, Kosovo and other theatres of war.
The School's high standards are achieved by techniques that inflict no suffering on the dog. All service dogs are trained with absolute kindness and their welfare is of the highest standard possible. All trainers draw out and reinforce the natural skills inherent in the various breeds.
The dogs are taught to associate achievements with a verbal praise and their goal is to please their handlers as they go into action together.
The Centre has an "open book" policy, and is independently checked by animal welfare organisations and its training is ratified by them annually.
DAC Drug Detector Dog
Service Dog Descriptions
Protection Dogs are trained to provide controlled aggression in the apprehension of intruders at restricted military installations.
Arms-and-Explosives Search Dogs have proved invaluable in the detection of caches of weapons and bomb-making items.
Tracker Dogs are trained to follow a suspected terrorist after an incident or by back-tracking from an incident in order to gain information on a suspected terrorist's movements before an incident.
And Drug Detection Dogs have done much to deny the illegal passage of prohibited substances into the UK.
Its little wonder, that with the current escalation of international terrorism as well as the continuing matter of the IRA, there has been little abatement in the Corps involvement with Service Dogs.
One handler and a dog are a very effective and efficient force multiplier, and are capable of covering an area that might otherwise require five separate foot patrols and they can also do it more effectively. Their superior ability to indicate the presence of an intruder, coupled with their agility and speed in chase and apprehension, make dogs a formidable deterrent which is rarely challenged by the ill intentioned.
Over open country or in urban areas, in pursuit of intruders or detecting terrorist's munition dumps, Service Dogs have been successfully used in Kenya, Cyprus, Hong Kong, the Falkland Islands, and today in Northern Ireland, Bosnia, and Kosovo.
Dogs are also an invaluable aid to our ground troops in jungle warfare as was demonstrated in the Malayan campaign against the Communist terrorists and again in Borneo against the Indonesian invasion.
In the years since 1946, the RAVC has been very active, with the Corps representation in some form in nearly every British Theatre of Operation.
DAC's Other Interests
Although Melton Mowbray is primarily used for training dogs in protection and search roles, the unit is also the centre for horses used by Britain's ceremonial units (with the Household Cavalry and The King's Troop RHA being the main users). and provides 200 years of expertise and support for all other United Kingdom agencies and Commonwealth forces.
And as might be expected, the Defense Animal Centre has a 24 hour Veterinary cover and also boasts Great Britain's most modern and comprehensive Veterinary Hospital.
Today, Great Britain's RAVC personnel enjoy a challenging and varied employment role involved in all aspects of the use of Service Dogs for military purposes, from their procurement, through their intial assessment and training, the maintenance of their health and fitness, throughout their service life, to their retirement from active service.
SERVING AROUND THE GLOBE!
Today in Kosovo, a recurrent problem is that the civilians are unwittingly straying into land mined areas and are either killed, injured or trapped within the fields.
Hooch & Lance Corporal
Andy Sinclair, RAVC
Detection Dogs such as Hooch had consistently achieved 100 percent detection rates during their intensive training course at the Defence Animal Centre.
The duo is one of six British Army Detection Dog teams to go to Kosovo to help support the United Nations "peacekeeping" efforts, and assist cleaning up Kosovo's mine fields.
MOD Police Dog Units
The one role for which the Ministry of Defence Police are best known is providing uniformed police officers to guard and carry out police duties at military bases throughout the country, this often includes providing an armed police and security force on all bases, including those of the United States military.
MoD Bomb Sniffing Dog
The Ministry of Defence's Police have one of the largest Police Dog sections within Great Britain today, with around 300 police dogs which are trained in a number of special roles, such as General Police Dogs, Specialist Search Dogs which can locate Drugs or Explosives and Human Remains.
Prison Guard Team Won 6th Nat'l Dog Trials 1999
Most of the MDP dogs are allocated to only official government sites and stations, where they serve with their handlers behind the wire and provide a police patrol dog presence to deter and detect all intruders; but they'll also provide assistance to local police, if needed.
Army Dog Unit, Northern Ireland
Army dogs play a vital role in security operations in Northern Ireland where their acute senses of smell and hearing prove invaluable in the fight against terrorism.
The Army Dog Unit, Northern Ireland (ADU NI) is responsible for providing the British Security Forces with canine support. The Service Dogs are trained for specific roles with one dog undertaking one particular job.
The roles undertaken are:
Guard Dogs - aggressive, it is employed in the defence of bases for the detection and apprehension of intruders.
Arms Explosive Search Dog - trained to find all types of firearms, explosives, hides and bomb making ancillaries in various environments.
Vehicle Search Dog - trained to search for firearms, explosives and bomb making ancillaries in all private and commercial vehicles.
Tracker Dog - trained to follow a suspected terrorist after an incident or by back-tracking from an incident in order to gain information on a suspected terrorist's movements before an incident.
There are approx 170 British Army Service Dogs in Northern Ireland, the handlers are all volunteers recruited from across the British Army, there are currently 27 different capbadges represented in the Army Dog Unit, Northern Ireland. However, all members of the unit are united by wearing a "RED PAW" badge to the left of their capbadge.
Kenya's Ivory Dogs!
Six dogs trained by the DAC are playing a crucial role in the going war against ivory poaching in Kenya. It is believed that the specialist K-9 teams are the world's first specially trained ivory sniffers.
The Defence Animal Centre already trains detection dogs to sniff out drugs, explosives and missing people but the request from the Kenyan Wildlife Service represented their greatest challenge so far.
The first problem was to obtain enough raw ivory to be able to train the dogs to identify it. However, because of the special circumstances, Kenya Wildlife Service sent a small quantity of seized elephant tusks to Melton Mowbray from Kenya.
During the 12 week basic course, trainers used the ivory as a toy and gave lots of praise every time one of the dogs retrieved it. Eventually, the dogs began to associate the smell of ivory with fun and praise.
But one of the more unique problems, the DAC had in training the dogs, was their future environment. A spokeman said: "All the dogs had been specially trained for their temperaments, but the first time we walked through a herd of giraffe, their eyes nearly popped out of their heads.
We had trained them in the UK with cows, to get them used to walking through herds of wild animals. But they came through with flying colours and the giraffes and other animals are now just part of the scenery to them."
When the dogs were ready, the DAC's trainers traveled with them to Kenya, to help train and accustom the park's rangers, who were selected as handlers. In a short space of time, both dogs and handlers were working in close harmony as teams.
Since arriving in Kenya last year, the dogs have learned not only to find illegal ivory but also illegal rhino horn and even weapons. Rhino horn is the world's most expensive substance - a single horn sold in Japan today could easily fetch $1 million (£700,000) dollars.
Today, the Ivory Dogs are enjoying some success, in Kenya's war against poachers, with a number of illegal ivory tusks and rhino horns recovered.
HM Customs & Excise Sniffer Dogs
Ever since they were first introduced in 1978, the Detector Dogs of HM Customs & Excise have been one of their most successful tools in protecting British society from the dangers of imported illegal drugs.
Each year, Custom's teams of around 90 dogs and handlers help uncover an average of more than £65 million of banned substances such as drugs.
Although they often have a flair for this type of work, all of the dogs are put through an intensive six month training course at the military Defence Animal Centre at Melton Mowbray, Leicestershire, where they become among the finest working animals in the United Kingdom.
Using their highly developed sense of smell, H.M. Customs & Excise dogs can sniff out drugs hidden on passengers, or in baggage and or vehicles ...giving their anti-smuggling officers valuable insight into illegal shipments.
H.M. Customs and Excise's Sniffer Dogs work at all shipping ports and airports across the UK. Their energy and skill mean that they can carry out large scale searches in a fraction of the time it would take humans.
The dogs are trained to sniff out heroin, cocaine, amphetamine and cannabis, but some are also capable of detecting firearms and explosives, as well as hidden cash. In the past they have also found illegal immigrants.
Once the dogs reach seven years, they usually stop work and 'retire.' According to a H.M. Customs and Excise's spokeman, "They have worked hard during their lives and we try to find a former handler or an other good owner to take care of them in their retirement.
We always make sure they go to a good home!"