K9 unit's new recruits to help in SAR operations in Sabah

KOTA KINABALU: Dogs are not just great as pets, they are intelligent and can be trained to help in search and rescue operations.

With that in mind, the Sabah Fire and Rescue Department’s K9 unit welcomed six furry hounds who will be tasked to help in a variety of search and rescue operations, such as during fires and cases of missing persons.

“We will now be able to search for missing victims faster and conduct fire investigations more efficiently with the help of this K9 unit,” said department director Kamarulzaman Malik Abdullah.

The six dogs comprise four English Springer Spaniels and two Labradors.

A total of eight handlers will be in charge of the dogs.

Kamarulzaman said these specially trained canines were bought from Britain at a price of about RM110,000 each including handling charges and other costs to bring them into Malaysia.

“The three main tasks of these canines are to assist in fire investigations by finding the source of fire, to trace missing victims in the wilderness (forests, caves and highlands) and to search for dead bodies on land and water,” he said during the launch of the unit at the Tuaran Fire Station on Monday (Dec 10).

Their handlers have spent time getting to know the dogs under their care so that both dog and human will be in sync when conducting search and rescue operations.

Meanwhile, Kamarulzaman said the Sabah Fire and Rescue Department has recorded a total of 6,250 emergency calls from the public so far this year.

“Of the number, 2,331 are for fires, 3,889 are for search and rescue operations and 17 for miscellaneous cases,” he said.