Contraband - NZ Customs

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Detector Dogs graduate

From left: Senior Customs Officer Blair Ridgley and Zen, Customs Officer Andrew Baker and Zaria, (back row) Training Officer Pettina Mitchener, Customs Officer Andrew Bond and Rajax, (back row) Customs Officer Brendon Kircher and Roxy, Customs Officer Paul Ferguson and Zulu, (back row) Training Officer Ruth Bennett, Chief Customs Officer Detector Dog Training Dave Huff

Detector Dogs graduateFIVE NEW NOSES

Our newest canine recruits recently graduated in a ceremony at the Police Dog Training Centre in Wellington. The ceremony was attended by Customs Minister, Hon Maurice Williamson, who presented awards to the five Customs teams and four Police patrol teams that graduated.

Since 1977 Customs’ drug detector dogs have been working at New Zealand’s airports, seaports, the International Mail Centre, and other areas where people try to smuggle illicit drugs, and in 2003 Customs introduced dogs that detect explosives to its detector dog unit.

Detector dogs are recruited for their attitude, temperament, and strong — but not aggressive — retrieval instincts. Customs’ drug detector dogs are trained to detect a wide variety of illegal drugs, such as cocaine, heroin, MDMA (ecstasy), amphetamine, methamphetamine (‘P’), cannabis, and precursors used to manufacture ‘P’.

Dave Huff, CCO Detector Dog Training says the role of detector dogs is vital at the border, as they help prevent illegal drugs from reaching our communities. Our highly skilled detector dog teams assist Customs Officers to find illicit drugs and potentially harmful explosives on a daily basis. They are often featured on the TV programmes Border Patrol and Dog Squad.

Customs detector dogs are sourced from the Australian Customs and Border Protection’s dog breeding and training facility in Melbourne. This world-class facility provides high quality detector dogs to agencies globally.

“All of Customs’ operational dogs have come from the Australian programme and they are of the highest quality. The newest recruits are a great example of this,”

To date Customs has received 24 detector dogs from the Australian programme. One of the graduates, Rajax, was the 2000th dog to be bred in the Australian programme.

“We are very fortunate to have Rajax in our detector dog unit — he’s a lively spirited Lab and possesses everything you look for in a detector dog,” says Dave. “Rajax was quick to make his first interception, which was a mail item containing the drug MDMA”

All of the graduates are now working operationally in the Auckland region.