Cops’ trusty partner with bite

Dog squad: The Pahang police K9 section with ASP Chia (3rd from right) and D6 officer Insp Mohd Irwan Mohd Nawi (third from left) as Sjn Sanmugam (below) leads Lao Wu away from the ‘suspect’ during training.

KUANTAN: Lao Wu the police dog may seem quiet when he is by his handler’s side but when the order is given, the German Shepherd springs into action.

“Wu, tangkap!” his handler Sjn S. Sanmugam shouted.

Lao Wu closed the gap to his target in a blink of an eye and bit down hard, not letting go until the order to stop was given.

Sjn Sanmugam said general-purpose dogs like Lao Wu have an aggressive demeanour but are also disciplined and fiercely loyal to their handlers.

The six-year-old Lao Wu is the fourth canine partner of Sjn Sanmugam. He has been assigned to the handler since 2015.

Besides his knack for apprehending suspects, Sjn Sanmugam said the pooch has another peculiar ability.

“He knows how to open his enclosure when left unsupervised. But then he will just sit quietly outside. We always have to make sure he is safely secured.”

Asked about the meaning of Lao Wu’s name, Sjn Sanmugam said he had no idea what it actually meant as it was already given to the dog back in China, his country of origin.

“I enjoy working with dogs because I love the challenge. My partners and I have tumbled down hills and fallen into pits together while chasing suspects,” said Sjn Sanmugam, who had been a K9 officer for 22 years.

In February, Lao Wu became the first police dog in Pahang to receive the “Jasamu Dikenang” award.

He was presented with a medal in recognition of his success in tracking down a vehicle theft suspect who had fled more than 4km at an oil palm plantation in Jerantut last year.

Sjn Sanmugam said he was so happy with Lao Wu’s achievement that he bought a bone for the dog to chew on as a treat.

This was not the first time Sjn Sanmugam and his dog had gained recognition as his third partner, Hyker, was awarded the best working dog prize at a national competition in 2009.

The dogs in the K9 section are not ordinary domestic animals as they have been bred and trained to do police work. They are also classified as government assets.

State CID D6 commanding officer ASP Chia Che Chau said the breeds suitable for this task were Labradors and German Shepherds usually bought from Germany or China.

“They have undergone four months of training with their assigned handlers at Pulapol. Once sent out to bases, the dogs will undergo frequent training in varying environments to maintain their abilities,” he said.

Besides Lao Wu, there are five other dogs in the Pahang police K9 section.

They are each specialised according to their abilities such as general purpose work as well as sniffing out narcotics, cadavers and explosives.

ASP Chia said the five-member team and their six canine partners had scored a number of triumphs such as tracking down two criminals hiding in a ditch, finding drugs stashed in a car dashboard and tracing down identification documents for a decomposed body.

During the movement control order period, ASP Chia had also led the team in community policing patrols to positive reception from the public.

Sjn Sanmugam, who is the Pahang K9 section chief, said there were many people who wanted to take pictures with the dogs during a recent patrol at the popular Teluk Cempedak beach here.

“It is good to see that the community loves animals,” he said.

Despite the close bond between the dogs and their handlers, a certain line must be observed to maintain control of the dogs.“We cannot get too attached and pamper them too much. Otherwise, it will affect their performance as police dogs,” said Sjn Sanmugam.

When they are old and can no longer perform, these police dogs will be taken care of until the end of their natural lives.

Sjn Sanmugam said Bukit Aman had prohibited the dogs from being put to sleep except in severe cases such as paralysis.

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