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VPD Canine Unit

Canine Unit

Originating in 1957, the Vancouver Police Canine Unit is the oldest municipal police dog unit in Canada.

Sixteen dog teams work 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and are trained in a variety of disciplines such as tracking, criminal apprehension, evidence recovery, narcotics, and firearms and explosives detection.

The Unit routinely responds to over 7,000 calls for service per year in the city of Vancouver, and assists other Lower Mainland police agencies when needed.

Sadly, eight Vancouver Police dogs have died in the line of duty. Their names are etched on a memorial in front of the VPD police dog kennelss, which was graciously donated by Mrs. Darlene Poole in memory of her late husband, Jack, and his love of dogs.

Take a Virtual Tour of the VPD Canine Unit

 

Deployment

VPD dog teams are trained to work with the Emergency Response Team, the Public Safety Unit, and the Marine Unit. All of our dogs are provided custom-fitted ballistic vests, as their safety and well-being paramount.

While on duty, handlers drive specially designed SUVs, with air-conditioned kennels and heat alarms that will sound if the interior temperature becomes unsafe.

The Canine Unit is highly mobile, with the main purpose to respond to crimes in progress or that have just occurred, like break-ins, assaults, or robberies.

Our dogs live with their handlers as part of their family. They continue working as long as they are able, or until their handler is transferred or promoted to another section.

Selection and Training

Depending on the Unit’s needs, dogs arrive when they are between seven weeks to two years of age. They are chosen from select breeders in Canada, the United States, and Europe, who have proven bloodlines, and have produced top working dogs for the police, military, and search and rescue.

Prospective police dogs must be social and high in drive. They are x-rayed and must be rated "excellent" in the hips, back, elbows, and knees prior to entering our training program. The dogs are at least one year of age before starting the 14- to 17-week basic dog handler course. The dogs, on average, will work until they are aged eight to ten, and will be retired to their handler thereafter.

History

The Vancouver Police Canine Unit has been fully operational since 1957. Early on, Deputy Chief Constable Gordon R. Ambrose was quoted as saying:

"During the initial stages of the program an attempt was made, for reasons of economy, to utilize multi-handlers and this was found to be unsound and not practical. This was discarded for the present method of having one dog exclusively handled and possessed by the one handler. The results are a matter of record, and are indeed gratifying."

Chief Constable George Archer also wrote about the results. In 1959, he pronounced the program a success and reported to the mayor that:

"It is my considered opinion, based on our experience to date, that the four dogs now on duty are each equal to a second police constable and, in some instances, better. It is my intention to recommend to the Board of Police Commissioners an increase in our dog strength and consideration to the employment of a professional dog trainer."

Video Flashback: VPD Canine Unit Appearance on Kids' Show "Zig Zag" in 1982

 

@VPDCanine on Twitter

For all the latest news and information on the VPD Canine Unit, follow @VPDCanine on Twitter.

In Memoriam

Eight Vancouver Police dogs have died in the line of duty. Read their stories.

Meet our dogs!

View photos and learn about what makes each of our VPD dogs unique.

Telus TV

Watch this profile of former VPD dog handler Matt Mageau and PSD Justice.


Tour the VPD's Police Dog Training Facility

The VPD has a new dog facility and a show / training field with spectator seating.

For more information, email vpddogs@vpd.ca.

Dog Squad Collector Cards

If you know kids who love dogs, have them ask a VPD dog handler for their Canine Unit collector card. Collect them all!

Dog Master Training Program

The Vancouver Police Canine Unit offers a 15-week Dog Master Training Program for outside law enforcement agencies.

For more information, please contact the Vancouver Police Canine Unit Training Constable at this mailing address:

Vancouver Police Department
Canine Unit
3585 Graveley St.
Vancouver B.C., Canada
V5K 5J5

Telephone: (604) 717-2870

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