There is staff crunch here too. And those who are there are overworked.
This is the dog squad of Delhi Police that we are talking about. There are 50 dogs in the squad —of them 34 are trained to sniff explosives — and if the cops are to be believed, at least 13 more are needed.
New Delhi district police have six dogs whereas the Outer district police do not have a single dog with them.
This Black Saturday, when five blasts rocked Delhi, it was up to six dogs to save the day at Connaught Place.
The six canines, posted with the dog squad of New Delhi district, searched trash bins, parking lots, market alleys and crowded places for suspicious objects. For some of these dogs, it meant eight hours of work this Saturday when they are required to work on three hours a day.
They were rushed to the spot from their duty to guard the Prime Minister’s route to an iftar party at Teen Murti Lane.
They were given a respite only when additional forces from other districts and the National Security Guard officials came in.
On an average, a sniffer dog attends two calls a day. During Independence Day and Republic Day celebrations, the frequency increases to around five. These calls do not include the VVIP routes that they are supposed to secure.
Till July this year, 59 bomb hoax calls were received.
“Most of the time, these dogs guard VVIP routes. Few months ago Sunny, one of the efficient dogs fell ill because of stress. He has not recuperated since,” said a senior police officer.
The police say their success rate cannot be ascertained in figures, as they provide vital help in investigations and exigencies.
The police have already decided to recruit more dogs. The last time, Delhi Police made such a purchase, it had to spend Rs 6.4 lakh.
“The last time we purchased trained dogs was about two years ago. We bought them from Army Veterinary Course in Meerut. Each dog cost us Rs 80,000,” said Rajan Bhagat of Delhi Police.
Not all of the 34 sniffer dogs are efficient. So, the police depend more on a few of them — Raja, Sunny, Rosy, Tiger, Sera.