First successful co-operation between Hong Kong Customs and AVSECO in working-dog breeding (with photos)

9 Jun 2022

Hong Kong Customs and the Aviation Security Company Limited (AVSECO) have co-operated for the first time in a canine breeding programme, having successfully bred eight Labrador retriever puppies on February 5 this year (the fifth day of the Lunar New Year). The result not only put into practice the framework agreement on co-operation signed by both parties in July last year, and established co-operation in the field of canine enforcement, but also strengthened the operational capability of respective detector dog teams to safeguard Hong Kong together.

Customs has always been committed to enhancing the quality of detector dogs and sustaining a stable supply. The department has also attached great importance to co-operation with other local canine enforcement agencies to ensure a stable supply of high-quality detector dogs. Customs joined hands with the Correctional Services Department, the Hong Kong Police Force and the Fire Services Department consecutively from 2016 to 2021 in dog breeding. This co-operative programme was the first time to team up with the AVSECO.

The Deputy Head of Land Boundary Command (Customs Canine Force), Ms Joy Wong, said at a press conference today (June 9) that the co-operative canine breeding programme with the theme "Defend HK, we turn a new page of canine enforcement together" symbolises the enhancement of professionalism of both parties' officers in the field of canine enforcement and the co-operative breeding of high-quality dogs to be trained as detector dogs capable of sniffing out contraband, such as explosives and firearms that endanger social safety, so as to achieve the goal of jointly defending Hong Kong.

Moreover, the Assistant Executive Director (Operations I) of the AVSECO, Ms Maxim Kwok, said that the operational capability of both parties will be enhanced to counter future challenges under the co-operation framework. The trained detector dogs will help shoulder the heavy responsibility of securing airport safety and take up the role as ambassadors of Hong Kong International Airport as well.

For this time, the Labrador retriever was chosen as the breed dog given its strong sniff sense, tame personality and high obedience. An explosive detector dog from the AVSECO was chosen to become the father dog, while a Customs drug detector dog was the mother. Customs officers have taken full charge of duties, from taking care of the mother dog, to the birth, feeding and early training of the puppies. Representatives from the AVSECO were also sent to provide support and gain experience during the process.

The eight puppies - five males and three females - were born on the fifth day of the Lunar New Year. They are named Dolly, Elly, Faddy, Eagle, Nico, Dolby, Hunter and Kilo, with "DEFEND HK" as the acronym, which has the implied meaning that they will become the new blood for professional detector dogs and shoulder the mission of "DEFEND HK" together with Customs and the AVSECO.

The puppies will undergo regular training for 10 to 12 weeks when they reach one year old, and will officially perform duties after passing the examinations. Six of them will perform drug, explosive, cash and firearm detection for Customs while the other two will join the AVSECO Canine Unit to assist in detecting explosives, firearms and ammunition.

The consecutive births of self-bred working dogs have proven the professionalism and determination of Customs in canine breeding and puppy nurturing. Customs will continue to explore different kinds of co-operation programmes to proactively develop detector dog management as another branch of professionalism for the department in a bid to achieve the ultimate goal of enhancing overall enforcement effectiveness.

Ends/Thursday, June 9, 2022

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