The eight specially trained canine crime fighters are kennelled at Shongweni with a vast expanse of sugarcane land surrounding their lodgings. Upper Highway volunteer supporters of the unit became concerned for the health and wellbeing of the animals when it became evident they had a rather LARGE rodent problem!
“The rats coming in were larger than any I had seen before,” says Debbie Smith, organizing volunteer with Friends of K9 Shongweni. “We realized we had a problem but were not sure how to deal with it.”
Martin Steyn, general manager of Service Master SA in Durban volunteered his help. The company installed rodent bait boxes on site and service the kennels each month to maintain a vermin free environment for the dogs.
“Rats are notoriously known for the diseases they can spread,” said Steyn, “But what few realize is the extent of damage they can cause. Quantities of stores are contaminated by the rat droppings, urine and hair left behind once they get in to a food source.”
“These animals really work hard,” Smith shares, “They come in after a 12-hour work day, the least they deserve is a clean kennel and good food.”
Friends of K9 Shongweni offers volunteer support for the unit, raising funds for emergency vet care when needed and special treats for the dogs such as ostrich chews and cooked chicken to supplement their feed, soft waterproof bedding and bullet proof vests for each animal. Knife and gunshot wounds are just some of the injuries the police dogs risk while at work which is why preventative care as well as access to emergency vet care is essential.
“These dogs may look like any other domestic pet when you see them interact with their handler, but they ARE trained to apprehend criminals.” Smith advises. The dogs do not interact with many people but remain under the sole care of their individual handler for years.
Meet the Teams
Friends of K9 Shongweni volunteer photographers have captured the love, respect and adoration between these officers. Dog and Handler remain together as a team for life, working tirelessly on 12 hour shifts to keep your neighbourhood crime free. Photo Credits: Heather Watson, Andrea Sander, Carol Malley.
WO Buckthorp and K9 Oscar
Sgt Hlope and K9 Onyx
WO Hutt and K9 Shaka
Sgt Khumalo and K9 Max
Cst Nxasane and K9 Max
Constable Dlamini with K9 Simba.
K9 Simba is a narcotics specialist, working tirelessly in his profession.
Sgt Singh and K9 Stitch