PEOPLE travelling through Delta with drugs, firearms and illicit cash should be aware that a new police dog unit is on the streets as of this week.
Delta is a busy hub within Metro Vancouver, with highways, a US border, an airport, a seaport and ferries, and the new Traffic Specialty Dog Unit will focus on vehicles and goods travelling through Delta.
“By having these dogs here, I hope we’re putting criminals on notice. And that notice is – don’t do your business here in Delta. These roads are our jurisdiction and with these dogs you’ll see enhanced policing,” says Chief Neil Dubord, Head of Delta Police Department.
He notes the unit was approximately a year in the making. It’s distinct from the RCMP-led Integrated Lower Mainland Police Dog Services team, in which Delta has three officers participating. This new unit will be solely based in Delta.
The unit is comprised of Constable Catherine Fiddick and two-year-old Ziva, as well as Constable Sunny Gahunia, with 15-month-old Remi. Both dogs are labs, and the dogs and their handlers just completed a thorough training course last fall to prepare for their new positions.
“The dogs are part of our daily lives now. They’re with us 24/7,” explains Fiddick, acknowledging it’s been quite an adjustment as both dogs are very high energy and high drive. “I’m so impressed by their abilities – their noses are so sensitive. They use their noses like we use our eyes.”
Dubord attended training in Victoria last fall to check on their progress, and thanks the Victoria police department for their role in providing the training and assisting with the certification.
“I had no idea how complex this training would be. I didn’t expect that level of nuance required to handle these dogs,” he says. He notes regular training will continue throughout the year, as the dogs are required to re-certify annually.
The two dogs with the Traffic Speciality Dog Unit (TSDU) are expected to assist officers in detecting drugs and firearms, but they are considered single profile dogs, and are not trained to track suspects for example. The dogs will also be used for community education and outreach work.
The TSDU will be working with policing partners within Delta, such as the Canada Border Services Agency, and others including BC Ferries and Boundary Bay airport, in order to fulfill its duties.
The public can also expect to see the dog unit at community events, engaging with youth, in ongoing education and awareness efforts.
In this first month of operation, Fiddick and Gahunia are focused on building relationships in the community.
“We’re definitely on the lookout for facilities to train in,” explains Fiddick. “If you have a business or facility in Delta, a warehouse for example, and would like to open it to our unit for training, please reach out to us.” Anyone interested can contact the Delta Police Department at 604-946-4411 and ask for constables Fiddick or Gahunia.