By Edona Bytyqi
10 September, 2009
Connie, a five year old Belgian Malinois, looked up at Sandra Jones, and instantly sensed her handler had hidden something and wanted Connie to find it. In a split-second, the explosive seeking expert lowered her head and went about a casual day at work. Ten minutes, and three explosive jack-pots later, Connie played cheerfully with her precious ball as a reward. It had been a fun and challenging day.
On 2 September, in a joint training session held in the KFOR Camp Bondsteel, the EULEX special dog handlers’ team and Kosovo Police completed an important explosive-search exercise. The drill was designed to train dogs and their handlers to cooperate effectively during a search for explosives.
The project is the result of a collective effort among EULEX, KFOR and KP, and aims to build sustainable local canine search capacity. Lars Persson, the EULEX K9 team leader from Sweden, stated that these dog training exercises are very educational for EULEX, KFOR and KP dog handlers alike. “Sharing knowledge is the best way of improving your own skills because you have to think about what you are doing and why,” comments Lars.
KFOR is the only organization in Kosovo that has access to rare explosives, and has shown readiness to provide samples to be used in training exercises. This week’s drill featured searches of three types of explosive samples provided by KFOR. In the future more types of explosives will be introduced so that dogs and their handlers can broaden their explosive recovery skills. Minush Krasniqi, Kosovo Police K9 commander, notes: “My unit is happy for this cooperation opportunity because without the KFOR sample explosives my officers couldn’t be so up-to-date with the latest forms of explosives. These periodic training exercises are extremely beneficial to handlers and their dogs because our canine friends get to know a wide range of explosives and also have fun in the process.”
The EULEX special dog handler’s team will continue to coordinate these trainings at different locations each week. They will also continue to hone their searching skills using real explosives. The special dog handlers’ unit also search for narcotics as well.
The EULEX K9 unit had undertaken several operations since it was created. The unit undertook drug searches and Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) searches several times.
The K9 was to have 19 dog handlers and one team leader. Currently there is a lack of dog handlers, and at the moment there are only 3 drug search teams and 1 explosive detection team.
The EULEX special dog handlers’ team is composed of professionals who love what they do. (See Article “Hairy Experts from Latvia.”) The team is always seeking new members to support the EULEX and the local authorities’ special investigations teams. The training and experience will be invaluable for dogs and handlers, as they will have the chance to receive real hands-on experience in the field.
All handlers who would love quality time with their dogs playing TNT Hunt are invited to apply for a place in the EULEX special dog handlers’ unit in Kosovo, or contact the K9 Team Leader at: Lars.Persson@eulex-kosovo.eu