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An ANZAC story of a different kind!

Thursday 24 April 2008

An ANZAC story of a different kind!

The New Zealand Customs Service has a new recruit…of the canine variety! In the true ANZAC spirit ‘ANZAC’ the trainee drug detector dog is the result of a new agreement between New Zealand and Australian Customs.

Customs Comptroller Martyn Dunne says ``ANZAC’s original name was Baxter but in recognition of the importance of this first importation it has been decided to rename him to signify our close ‘Kiwi’ – ‘Aussie’ relationship. His name also signifies that in the war against drugs both nations, as history shows; still work together for the protection of both countries borders.’’

ANZAC is one of four new dogs for the New Zealand Customs Service, the others are Bliss, Titan and Karma; all Labradors.

Mr Dunne says ``The Labrador was selected for its focus, versatility, temperament and strong hunt and retrieve drives. They’re confident in unfamiliar environments, determined and with an untiring desire to retrieve and the public are used to them, they don’t scare people.’’

The dogs will be trained for either drug or explosive detection in NZ by New Zealand Customs Service detector dog trainers. A search for Handlers for the dogs is currently underway and a course for three new handlers is planned to start in early May 2008. It takes three months to train a detector dog and handler.

Mr Dunne says ``The dogs are trained using retrieval exercises of articles scented with a target odour. Through this technique the detector dog establishes scent association. After a successful retrieval, the handler rewards the dog with a tug-o-war game and a great deal of praise. Dogs are never fed, dosed or in any way rewarded with drugs.’’

``Each exercise is designed for challenging and progressive development, using the Labradors enjoyment of the game as the reward for a job well done.’’

``Detector dog team training also includes introducing the handler and the dog to the methods required to effectively search all areas of interest to Customs such as airports, seaports, cargo facilities, international mail centres and small craft.’’

``This provides the New Zealand Customs Service with a highly effective and flexible drug and explosive detection capability, able to be deployed at short notice to a variety of locations.’’


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