Among the many bravehearts who risked their lives to save others during the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks were three canines – Max, Caesar and Prince. While the men and women are honoured and remembered, the three courageous Labradors are merely a footnote in that 2008 chapter of fight against terror.
An integral part of the Mumbai police’s bomb-disposal squad, the trio had helped security personnel detect three RDX devices – one each at CST, Nariman House and near Gokul hotel behind Leopold Café – and 18 hand grenades during the attacks.
While Prince died last year, Max and Caesar live on leftovers at the Bomb Detection and Disposal Squad (BDDS) kennel near LT Marg police station, Dhobi Talao, several months after their retirement.
Although age, a decade in service and neglect after retirement has taken a toll on their health, Max and Caesar stand in attention the moment their trainers give them a command.
“They are living on the food we eke out from others. They risked their lives, but when the time comes to pay them back, they are left to fend for themselves,” said a staffer at BDDS. “We groomed them like our children and we will take care of them till the end.”
Staff members pool in money to get a sweeper to clean the dogs’ kennel regularly.
Sources in the Mumbai police said a proposal to grant sniffer dogs a pension to take care of their needs after retirement has been gathering dust in the state home department since August last year. With no funds, the expense for the dogs’ food and healthcare is drawn from the budget allocated to the other 10 dogs at the kennel.
Senior inspector DR Chaudhary of BDDS said the proposal for the grants is yet to be approved by the state. Despite repeated attempts, additional chief secretary (home), KP Bakshi, and Mumbai police commissioner Rakesh Maria were unavailable for comment.
Sniffer dogs in the service are paid Rs15,000 a month, which is spent on their food and medical expenses. The proposal sent to state has asked for a pension of a similar amount, which could take care of the retired dogs until they are adopted by dog lovers.