Four Legged Friends - Therapy Dogs
Friday, 22 January 2010
Pamela Flood has worked in television now for almost 12 years. Having started as a continuity announcer back in 1998, Pamela moved to London where she worked in production at the BBC before going back in front of camera with the Travel Channel who she was with for 3 years. Pamela returned to Dublin in November 2001 to work on Off the Rails. In the meantime she has taken part in other programmes for RTE such as No Frontiers, Anonymous, The Afternoon Show, The Panel and The Restaurant. She also presented the 2008 series Marry Me.
How many dogs are there across the country?
There are currently 13 detection dogs - Thatcher, Toby, Storm, Chip, Buster, Lulu, Alfie, Jet, Max, Ben, Dillon, Shadow and Kovu. They're situated in Rosslare, Sligo, Portlaoise, Dublin Port, Waterford and Cork along with Dublin Airport.
What type of dogs are they?
A number of breeds are suitable for this line of work; specifically gun dog breeds as it is in their natural instinct to hunt and retrieve. Breeds currently on Revenue's Canine Programme include Springer Spaniels and Labradors. The latest drug detector dogs are "Kovu" a German Shorthaired Pointer and "Ben" a Labrador
What training do the detection dogs and their handlers receive?
The dogs and their handlers have in the past been trained at the canine unit of the Defence Animal Centre (DAC) in the Leicestershire countryside, in the UK. Currently training is provided by Dog Management, a UK based company run by a highly qualified trainer, who previously worked with the DAC. Dog handlers are taught all aspects of animal husbandry, including dog first aid, as well as more specialist subjects depending on their dog's personal abilities.
How is a dog handler chosen?
Serving eligible Revenue - employees can apply for assignment to the Dog Handler Unit whenever a panel arises. Successful candidates must have a natural aptitude and enthusiasm for working with dogs and are expected to carry out a wide range of duties including:
. ensuring efficient use of detector dog resources
. participating in programmes to cover identified risk areas
. participating in dog training using drug samples
. preparing dog detector service and operational records
. participating in public awareness programmes.
How long does a detection dog's working life last?
A detection dog's 'professional' life generally lasts five to seven years. They begin their working life at the age of about eighteen months.