Police dogs in South Africa receive training to provide both proactive and reactive police services, including narcotics, explosives, protected species detection, tracking, fire investigation, patrol, and search and rescue operations. South Africa police have specific breeds of dogs they use and have specific requirements for police dog trainers and handlers.
Age and Breed
The South African Police Service requires dogs accepted into its training program to be between the age of 9 months and 3 years. The breeds that SAPS accepts for police service dog training include: Border Collie, German Shepherd, Belgium Shepherd, Boxer, Doberman, Labrador, Cocker Spaniel, Bloodhound and Rottweiler.
Police Dog Handler
In South Africa, the dog handler receives training in the care, training and handling of the police dog, and handles the dog during the prevention, combating and investigation of crime. The handler must be physically fit, healthy, non-allergic to dog hair, retain good motor and observation skills, complete basic training and have at least two years experience in uniform duties.
An ever-growing need exists for the service of police dogs at special events such as general elections and world sporting events like the Soccer World Cup of 2010. Thus, SAPS launched a campaign in 2007 encouraging the public to donate dogs in order to increase the working police dog capacity.
Prevention of Cruelty
SAPS adopted a collaboration policy with the Non-Governmental Organizations and the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals that helps to prevent cruelty to dogs found unsuitable for training. SAPS donates dogs that did not meet the required training standards to the SPCA, who in return will handle them according to its rules and legislation, which will help to protect the dogs from undesirable circumstances and public auctions.
In the year 2000, an investigation examined SAPS dog trainers and handlers throughout South Africa for their style of dog training because of an incident that horrified people all over the world. A canine training unit videotaped a training session in 1998 of the unit using black prisoners for the targets of the dogs in training. In the one-hour taped training session, four dogs repeatedly savaged the prisoners as they screamed and begged for their lives. State television in South Africa aired the video, and it has since surfaced on the Internet.