Services of a police dog handler have returned to a home base in High Prairie.
RCMP Dog Services Cst. Andrew Druhan and his German shepherd dog Chet started on the job on Jan. 30 stationed at High Prairie RCMP.
“We are pleased to have the police dog service unit return to the community,” says High Prairie RCMP Staff Sgt. Warren Wright, noting that the service was discontinued more than four years ago.
“Having a dog unit available locally means ideally quicker access and quicker response times for their services.”
As one of 24 RCMP dog teams in Alberta, Druhan and Chet bring dog police experience of five years to High Prairie from Wood Buffalo RCMP based in Fort McMurray, where they were posted as one of four dog teams for three years.
Previously, they served two years at Wetaskiwin RCMP.
“We are a support service for police,” says Druhan, who is employed under the RCMP K Division (Alberta), and not a member of High Prairie RCMP.
‘If they have an investigation, we can assist them.”
While based in High Prairie, the dog unit is also accessible for calls in the wider region east to Slave Lake and Desmarais-Wabasca, west to McLennan, Falher and Grimshaw and north to Peace River, Cadotte Lake and Red Earth Creek, he says.
“We also provide relief for dog teams in Grande Prairie and High Level and we can call on them to assist us,” Druhan says.
Chet, seven years old, is trained as a general duty dog and for drugs.
“He does tracking, such as a suspect leaving a scene or a missing person and criminal apprehension for someone who is a high risk to police or violent,” Druhan says.
“The dog is used to apprehend a person in a safe manner without risk to anyone, including the public.”
“He’s found a guy accused of murder hiding under a car.”
Chet has located evidence such as a firearms and drugs in a vehicle.
“When an RCMP drug unit executes a search warrant, the dog can search for drugs in areas difficult to detect by officers,” Druhan says.
“The big thing about a dog is that he can use his natural powerful ability to smell.”
Drug unit officers say the dog team is a major asset to enhance services.
“They will greatly assist us so we can find the drugs,” says High Prairie RCMP Cpl. Brent Lawson of the drug unit.
“It’s just another valuable tool we can utilize in our duties.
“We have had several situations where we haven’t found the drugs, but the dog has.”
During the wildfires in Fort McMurray in 2016, police dogs were instrumental to deter looting of homes and other buildings, Druhan says.
“That was the concern of the community,” he says.
Officers value the services.
“They like the presence of a dog in a situation that presents potential risk,” Druhan says.
He notes the job brings lots of rewards.
“I love working with dogs, and I’m a dog lover,” Druhan says.
“I love the challenge the job brings, whether it’s a bad guy running away from a scene, a lost child in the woods, or searching for drugs or all kinds of evidence.
‘At the end of the day, my partner is a dog and you can’t beat that.”
Before he entered the dog services, Druhan was posted with RCMP in Hobbema from 2010-2012 and Killam from 2005-2010.
Druhan welcomes opportunities to show his dog to schools, children and at community events.
“I take the dog to schools and have talks, people love dogs,” Druhan says.
To make arrangements, phone High Prairie RCMP at (1-780) 523-3370.