The dogs that sniff out explosives for the Black Cats are getting a protective shield.
The National Security Guard (NSG) plans to get bullet-proof jackets for its squad of canine warriors to protect them from gunfire and explosives when they move into life threatening situations like last November’s 26/11 Mumbai attacks.
Sniffer dogs of the NSG had spent hours at Nariman House and Taj Mahal hotel to check the place for explosives including grenades.
The dogs smelt out the body of the tenth terrorist, lying covered under burnt furniture, the AK-47 rifle that he had used was lying next to him.
The canines were lucky; there had been no explosion around the place they were searching. Only the dog handlers wore bullet-proof jackets, the labradors did not have similar protective clothing.
“These are Level III jackets and can save a dog’s life in case of explosive splinters or gunfire,” said Vijay Gupta, chief adviser at Anjani Technoplast, a private armouring company that supplied bullet-proof jackets to the home ministry after the 26/11 attack.
A dog handler, Ravindra Kuwar, and his sniffer dog, Lucy — employed by a private security agency at the entrance to Mumbai’s Taj hotel — were among the first casualties in the attack on the hotel that became a national nightmare.
“I think the dogs should have had got them (the jackets) quite some time back,” an NSG officer said. “We are also buying a special dog ambulance for the squad”.
It takes anything from six to nine months to train a sniffer dog and the handler.
Officials at the Border Security Force — that runs a dog training school at its academy in Tekanpur, Madhya Pradesh — said the success rate of a dog successfully completing the training was around 75 per cent. One in every four dogs is rejected during the training, on grounds of health, anatomical or attitude.
“But once trained, they save lives of security personnel and civilians every day — from insurgency-hit Jammu and Kashmir to the dense forests of Chhattisgarh where the Naxals lay landmines,” a home ministry official said.