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Customs Drug Dogs At National Fieldays



The New Zealand Customs Service says its drug dog displays at this week's National Agricultural Fieldays will assist the public to better understand Customs role in serving the community.

Accompanied by their handlers, the drug dogs will demonstrate their talents in searching for illegal substances. The displays will provide the public with a great opportunity to view, discuss and gain an understanding of the wide variety of work that is carried out by Customs.

Customs drug dogs were introduced to New Zealand in 1973, and since this time they have been directly responsible for contributing to many drug interceptions.

Customs Dog Section Team Leader Cliff Russell, says their deployment is flexible, and directly related to where the risk of drug importation exists. Customs can cover a wide area of risk situations whether they be in the mail, cargo, passengers baggage, ships, people or residence. The dogs refine the area where an inspection is made.

"The dogs have proved to be highly successful at International Air Terminals, the International Mail Centre, and an invaluable aid in house and ship searches. Their success also extends to confined spaces where scent may be concentrated."

"The availability of heroin in Australia has risen significantly, and the risk of this drug coming into New Zealand has increased. Customs dogs are highly trained to meet this risk, and to prevent a variety of other drugs taking hold here."

"We have to adjust to changes in the types of drugs that are flavours of the month, and so providing something has an odour, then the dogs can be trained to detect that odour. Our methods too have been refined to meet these new risks,"

"A key focus for the New Zealand Customs Service is the protection of our community. Not only is society protected from risk to individual welfare, such as exposure to drugs, pornography, restricted weapons and firearms, but local industry, trade and the economy is also enhanced and protected."

"Children always respond to animals, and the displays are an excellent example of how these dogs can work with Customs Officers to deter offenders and maintain security at the border," Mr Russell said.

There are 13 drug dogs in the New Zealand Customs Service. Golden Labradors and a German Short haired Pointer are among the nine located in Auckland, where 3 of the handlers are women. Wellington and Christchurch both have two Golden Labs. Their working life spans about seven years.




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