Sniffer dog on board Brazilian Navy shipsSniffer dog on board Brazilian Navy ships

Learn about the work of these dogs trained to identify narcotics

By First Lieutenant (RM2-T) Luciana Almeida – Manaus, AM

The work of identifying narcotics hidden in cargo and luggage can sometimes be more difficult without specific equipment. However, this task becomes more efficient with the use of the sharp nose of trained dogs. This is the case of Fiona, a Belgian Shepherd breed from Malinois, from the kennel of the 1st Battalion of Riverine Operations, subordinated to the 9th Naval District Command, in Manaus (AM), which acts as a sniffer dog in the Amazon region.

The animal’s routine was followed during a Brazilian Navy (MB) mission, when the dog, two and a half years old, worked together with two Marines in Naval Patrols, checking vessels in the Negro River, in the state of Amazonas. The suitcases lined up on one side and the owners of the luggage on the other, are the scenario organized by the military in the “security” function, who is the first to arrive at the place to be inspected, so that the sniffer dog can start its work. The second serviceman is the “driver”, who stays beside the animal, using the guide, so that the inspection takes place, in an orderly fashion, and to guide which luggage is to be inspected.

One of Fiona’s trainers, Staff Sergeant (Marine) Roni de Alexandre Costa, explains that the characteristics of this breed are its intelligence, its sense of smell and its physical strength. “Fiona is the daughter of a nose dog, who also worked for the Battalion, but has already gone into the reserve. She has a sister and a brother, who are also in our kennel, in the same function. However, I point out that the female ends up being more efficient than the male because she is more focused. The male, for instance, if he smells the urine of another dog or of a female dog that has passed by the place, he ends up being dispersed, unlike the female, because she is not easily distracted”, he compares.

Fiona’s routine on land starts early in the morning, with food and physical-military training with the Faro team, followed by specific training in her area of expertise, that is, finding narcotics in luggage. Staff Sergeant (FN) Roni explains that they use a pilot, that is, a controlled sample of the product for her to try to find. When it identifies the smell, the dog puts its snout and lies down near the luggage. When he confirms that the target has been found, Fiona is immediately rewarded with a small rubber ball, the object of her daily amusement. “In the dog’s mind, it’s like a diversion, where when the ‘pilot’ is found, we throw the ball to play,” explains the trainer.

When the dogs are on board for missions along the river, their feeding and exercise routine is modified, due to the restricted space on the ships, but keeping the moments of walking in the morning and late afternoon. “The animal naturally becomes more stressed because it is more confined and in a reduced space. However, to mitigate these changes, we sleep next to her, we pet her constantly, and we maintain a routine of physical activities so that she gets better”, she highlights.

Source: Marine News Agency

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