Source: CBC (Extract)
Posted: July 21, 2023

The Sault Ste. Marie Police Service has a new member of the four-legged variety.

For the first time, the police service has recruited a rescue dog to join its canine unit.

Red is a 10-month-old fox red labrador and is being trained for search and rescue.

Const. Dan Turco said most police dogs in Ontario come from breeders – through a program with the Ontario Provincial Police – but he wanted to prove a rescue dog could also do the job.

“I just thought, give a dog that may not have gone to a good home, just to give them an opportunity to, like a said, a rescue dog becoming a rescuer,” Turco said.

He said his 11 years experience with the police service’s canine unit likely meant his superiors trusted him to try something different.

Turco said he searched online to find the perfect dog for the job, and found Red from a dog rescue organization in southern Ontario.

Because of their loyalty, high energy and intelligence, labradors generally make good working dogs, and are well-suited for police work.

Turco said any breed of lab would have worked, but it just so happened that Red was of the fox red variety.

Red graduated from the 12-week training program from the Ontario Provincial Police Academy Training Centre in Orillia on June 12.

In addition to his search and rescue training, he can also work as a cadaver dog, looking for human remains.

When they’re searching for a person, Turco said he lets Red go off-leash so he can cover a wide area quickly. Red’s collar has a GPS tracker on it, so Turco always knows exactly where he is.

If Red finds a person, he’s trained to stay with them until Turco and other officers catch up.

Partway through his training, Red helped with a successful search for a missing child in Sault Ste. Marie who was found alive and well.

Red joins two other dogs with the Sault Ste. Marie Police Service – Justice and Hector.