By Surihe Gaomas
In response to their urgent public appeal for dogs early this year, the Namibian Police received a welcome boost of two Belgian Shepherds from Deputy Secretary to Cabinet Steve Katjiuanjo and his wife Christophina last Friday.
The Katijuanjo family donated the four-months-old male and female dogs to Police Deputy Inspector-General: Administration, James Tjivikua, at their residence in Olympia Windhoek.
The donation comes in light of the police’s appeal in February this year that it is in dire need of dogs to undergo police training.
Such dogs are normally trained for bomb sniffing and VIP protection, including the protection of the Head of State and high-profile guests visiting the country.
“We saw the appeal and we see this as a fair donation to the Namibian Police. We thought to ourselves they are good watchdogs so why not donate them? We already have two other dogs at home,” said Christophina Katjiuanjo during a brief interview with New Era.
In turns out that although the public have been forthcoming with all kinds of dogs to the Namibian Police, only three could be taken in for training at the Nampol School Dog Unit as the rest did not meet the requirements of being trained as a police dog.
Only the Malinoi Shepherd, German Shepherd and Labrador type of dogs can be trained into effective police dogs.
Welcoming the donation, Police Deputy Inspector Major General Tjivikua said the two dogs from the Katijuanjo family would go a long way in alleviating the shortage of trained police dogs.
“So far we have received three dogs from the public and the donation of an additional two will definitely go a long way in assisting the police in acquiring sufficient dogs for its operations and crime prevention activities,” said Tjivikua.
It appears that due to the looming 2010 World Cup in neighbouring South Africa, most southern African countries have been experiencing problems in getting trainable dogs.
This is mainly because South Africa, which has normally served as a breeding place and supplier of such dogs to the region, needs the dogs for this major global event.
“In all SADC countries, there is a problem with dogs. We used to buy our dogs from South Africa all these years, but they can’t help us anymore as they need their own dogs for the World Cup,” said the police’s Inspector Piet Steenkamp who has been training dogs for the past 30 years.
He said the two puppies from the Katijuanjo family will undergo training in explosives for five months and another three months in sniffing out drugs like mandrax and cocaine.
“This country is caught up in drugs, so we need these dogs. Such dogs are very much needed world-wide, that is why they are so hard to find,” explained Inspector Steenkamp .
On a negative public perception that the police abuse these dogs, he reassured that this is not the case at all.
“We don’t neglect our dogs, they are well fed and well taken care of at all times,” said the dog trainer.
In an effort to address the problem in the long term, plans are under way to set up a dog-breeding centre for police dogs near Gobabis in the Omaheke Region. In that way, not only will Namibia be able to provide dogs for local use but will also be able to sell them to police forces of other SADC countries.