With 220 million scent receptors in their nose, dogs have a keen sense of smell that allows them to quickly determine the presence or absence of odours given off by explosive materials. Metro Vancouver Transit Police has harnessed this unique ability for counter-terrorism purposes. Given that terrorist attacks have targeted transportation networks in recent years, system resiliency is a Transit Police priority.
While Transit Police officers are specially trained to identify suspicious behaviour that may be linked to terrorist activity, the role of Transit Police dogs in keeping our transit system safe and resilient is key. The use of explosive detection dogs means that suspicious packages can be handled quickly, transit stations remain open and service disruptions are minimized.
Launched in time for the 2010 Winter Olympics, the Transit Police Dog Service began with one dog, a black Labrador Retriever named Bailey. This breed was specifically selected due to the dogs’ great disposition, consistent drive, adaptability and strong desire to search. Bailey and her handler retired in 2015.
Today, the Police Dog Service is comprised of seven highly-trained dogs:
Strider, Deutsch Drahthaar (the first of his breed to work for a Canadian police agency!)
Having so many trained noses on the transit system allows us to prevent potentially dangerous activity before it occurs, and occasionally even assist other police agencies. Each of the dogs and handlers are in constant training, ensuring that they are up-to-date on their skills and current best practices. Recently, the dogs’ skillset was expanded to include firearm and ammunition detection.
Transit Police dogs are friendly, and used to the crowded and busy environments of the transit system. If you see a Transit Police dog and would like to pet it, their handler may invite you to do so, depending on the dog’s current disposition, work obligations and environment. Please, always ask before petting any working dog.