Dubai Police's elite team of crime-fighting canines is helping to sniff out major drug operations, investigate fires and even tackle the spread of Covid-19.
The force's K9 Unit carried out more than 2,800 missions last year in its dogged pursuit of justice.
The team, ably supported by 63 professional trainers, is made up of 73 animals from six breeds – German shepherd, Dutch shepherd, Belgian Malinois, English springer spaniel, Labrador retriever and cocker spaniel.
The dogs assisted the force in conducting 1,321 security checks, 480 guard duty posts, 381 security patrols, 53 anti-drug operations, 20 raids, 11 fire detections, 542 Covid-19 screenings and another 879 special assignments at Expo 2020 Dubai during a busy 12 months.
A special breed of crime fighters
Maj Salah Khalifa Al Mazrouei, director of security at the K9 Unit, said each breed of dog was best suited to particular tasks.
"Missions and tasks are distributed among canines based on their specialities," he said.
"German and Dutch shepherds and Malinois dogs handle guarding duties, lead tracking and detection of all kinds as they are known for being more resilient.
"On the other hand, English springer, Labrador retriever and cocker spaniels specialise in recovering hidden narcotics and explosives, uncovering dead bodies, searching for missing persons and tracking possessions and flammable materials."
Smashing drug rings and investigating fires
Cpt Khalifa Al Suwaidi, head of the security missions section, said it was difficult to throw the dogs off the scent when they were closing in on drug gangs.
"Some canines are assigned for anti-narcotics missions to detect psychotropic substances such as opium, marijuana, hallucinations drugs, amphetamine, heroin and cocaine. During the mission, K9s sniff out hidden drugs even if buried," he said.
"We dispatched canines to determine if a fire breakout is to be considered an arson case by sniffing out gasoline, diesel or kerosene."
Supporting Covid-19 fight
Maj Al Mazrouei said the K9 Unit played a leading role in limiting the spread of Covid-19.
"K9 sniffer dogs have been stationed at airports across the country to help detect traces of the coronavirus from passenger sweat samples, with 92 per cent accuracy," he said.
"We have trained 38 canines, including German shepherds, Labradors, cocker spaniels and border collies, to recognise the scent of Covid-19 using samples of sweat from people with confirmed infections, collected by holding a swab in an armpit for a few minutes."
He said there was no direct contact between the canines and the passengers during this process.
Top dogs for the job
Maj Al Mazrouei said the force went to great lengths to secure the best canine candidates.
"A specialised committee has been formed to run tests to handle canine recruitments based on their instincts and their capabilities to undertake policing missions and handle the workload," he said.
"Canines join the Dubai Police team at 10 months or a year-and-a-half of age and continue to serve the force for seven more years.
"During their years of service, they undergo medical check-ups and performance tests to determine their capabilities to carry out police work.
"Suppose Dubai Police veterinarians or canines' trainers give reasons for necessary retirement. In that case, dogs are placed for adoption under certain conditions, and we get many applications from dog lovers among the public."