A gruelling four months of training came to an end during May 2015 as 33 Customs officers and their detector dogs graduated from the SARS Detector Dog Training Academy. A graduation ceremony was held in Pretoria. It was the culmination of a training course where officers were, together with their canine charges, were trained in the finer aspects of the detection of illegal substances and goods in vehicles, vessels, aircraft, containers, cargo, mail, rail, luggage and buildings.
“The substances that they would be able to detect are explosives, firearms and ammunition in addition to narcotics such as cocaine, heroin, cannabis, mandrax, crystal meth and ecstasy,” states Hugo Taljaard, Senior Manager for the Detector Dog Unit (DDU). “They will also be able to find rhino horn, ivory, wet or dry abalone, crayfish and lion bones. This also extends to currency, tobacco products, copper wire and cell phones,” he added.
The training began in January 2015 and covered both practical and physical aspects. The following modules were accomplished during the development programme:
- Bonding and socialisation phase with the dog.
- Imprinting of substances.
- Paramilitary Drill – Salute and Compliment.
- Practical search and detect training on vehicles, vessels, aircraft, containers, cargo, mail, rail, luggage and buildings
- Physical training – dog and handling – Theoretical training on identification and handling of narcotics and endangered species; Dog conditioning process; Basic animal behavior; and General dog care.
- Change of environment training at land ports of entry.
- Formal assessment.
After this training, detector dog units will be established in Mpumalanga (Lebombo Detector Dog Unit), Northern Cape (Nakop Detector Dog Unit), and Northern Cape (Vioolsdrif Detector Dog Unit) to support SARS’ strategic objective to increase customs compliance at ports of entry.
Currently, all SARS DDU recruitment is sourced from within the organisation.
Visit the Servamus website (a community-based safety and security website and magazine) for an article published on Customs Detector Dog Unit – “Sniffing out trouble at SA ports” (May 2015 Edition). Source: SARS and Servamus.co.za
- Visit the SARS Detector Dog page on this site.