Tribute Paid to Police Dogs Killed in Action
By Geraldine Cook June 30, 2011
Cremated remains of Dox and Lyon will inaugurate the Minas Gerais Military Police’s Hall of Heroes.
CURITIBA, Brazil – Quick, determined and with impeccable senses of smell and hearing, Dox and Lyon lost their lives during a recent police operation.
The two dogs were fatally shot while pursuing suspects in a forest near the city of Ribeirão das Neves on behalf of the Minas Gerais Military Police on May 17.
As soon as the trained German Shepherds located the hiding criminals, they started barking to alert officers they had located the suspects.
“One of the fugitives fired nine rounds and five hit Dox and four hit Lyon,” says Capt. Paulo Roberto Alves, commander of the Minas Gerais Military Police (PMMG) Shock Brigade, where the dogs had trained and served. “They gave their lives to protect police officers.”
But the PMMG took an extra step to honor their canine colleagues.
The courage shown by Dox and Lyon, who had been on the force for six and two years, respectively, inspired the organization to create a Hall of Heroes.
It’s expected to be built this year at the headquarters of the PMMG’s 1st Company for Special Missions, in Contagem.
The hall will contain the ashes of dogs lost in service, as well as plaques and their photographs.
Dox and Lyon will be the first enshrined.
The dogs also were the first to be cremated by the PMMG, on May 20. Prior to their cremation, the officers spent a few minutes with the Dox and Lyon’s remains, paying respect to their fallen heroes.
“It was one of the saddest moments of my life,” says Officer Luís Antônio de Castro Maciel, who was assigned to work with Dox five years ago. “It was like he was family to me.”
Officer Welly Lucindo, who was assigned to work with Lyon more than two years ago, says he “lost a friend.”
“What happened was a real tragedy,” he says. “I’m never going to forget him.”
Alves says the 16 dogs assigned to the unit are considered police officers.
“They train, they’re registered and they work just like any other officer,” he says. “In addition, they learn to give their lives if necessary.”
Police dogs are an invaluable resource when conducting operations, Alves says.
“In dense forests, 70% of the operation depends on the dogs, and only 30% on the human officers,” he adds. “They’re essential.”
“The dogs are one step ahead of the human officers in terms of speed, because of their body types; in hearing, because they can detect infrasound and ultrasound; and in their sense of smell, because they possess somewhere around 200 million olfactory cells, while a human, on average, has around 5,000,” says Sgt. Marcelo Piovesan, who heads the technical training of the War Dogs at the Army Police’s 5th Company in Curitiba in the state of Paraná.
The Federal Highway Police (PRF) in Paraná said the dogs’ performances played a major role in the department’s recent success in its fight against narcotics. The results of the PRF’s operations in Paraná enabled the state lead the nation in crack and marijuana seizures.
“Three police officers would take between 15 to 30 minutes to inspect the baggage on a passenger bus,” says Leonel Weng, a police officer who works with the PRF police dogs. “In two minutes, a dog can let you know if there are drugs on the scene.”
Police dogs receive special training
Police dogs are not trained in the same way as normal dogs, Piovesan says.
“Families want their pet dogs to behave,” he says. “Police dogs need specialized training that is specific and ongoing.”
Each dog goes through a socialization process when it’s a puppy, Piovesan adds.
The dogs are then trained during simulations that mirror what they’ll face in the field, such as running through tunnels, entering automobiles and swimming.
After 18 months, dogs are eligible to begin specific, more intense training, which lasts between three to six months. After this period, the dog continues to engage in physical exercise and maintenance training.
Detection dogs are trained to associate the smell of narcotics or explosives with a toy.
“If he finds the toy, the payoff is that he can play with his guide,” says PRF Officer Natalino Cebulski, who has been working with a Labrador named Popó for two years.
Popó is so well trained he can find small quantities of narcotics.
“A backpacker brought a marijuana cigarette to the beach and smoked it. On his way back, Popó was able to smell the drug in the backpack, even though there were only a few remnants,” Cebulski says.
Breeds such as Labradors, German Shepherds and Belgian Shepherds make the best detection dogs, Piovesan adds.
A dog signals the presence of narcotics by scratching, barking or biting the area. In the case of explosives, the animal is trained to sit or lay down, in order to avoid detonating the bomb by touching it.
Larger, more intimidating dogs are used for guard duties and protection.
“For operations at soccer matches or prison uprisings, the best breeds are Rottweilers, Dobermans, Brazilian Mastiffs or pit bulls,” Piovesan says.
The dog always is accompanied by the same officer, so a relationship of trust can be built. The more comfortable the dog feels with its guide, the stronger the partnership.
A police dog will work with the force for an average of eight years. When it’s time for the dog to retire, the officer has option of adopting the canine.
Dogs are trained to give their lives for their guide, for their team or for a civilian in danger, Piovesan says.
“They don’t hesitate, they don’t think twice and they’re always ready,” he adds. “A tribute to the dogs who gave their all, like Dox and Lyon, is the right thing to do.”
It was very sad, but also really nice the tribute to the two fellows that have departed and given their lives for society. It seems to me that it was a really nice gesture and a big consideration for those animals that every day gives us happiness with their presence in our lives…..